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Du Quoin lights kick off the Christmas season

  • Mayor Guy Alongi addresses the assembled crowd.

    Mayor Guy Alongi addresses the assembled crowd.
    Geoffrey Ritter/Du Quoin Call

  • The Nativity scene also is part of the display.

    The Nativity scene also is part of the display.
    Geoffrey Ritter/Du Quoin Call

  • Du Quoin's community Christmas tree shines with light Thursday for the first time this season.

    Du Quoin's community Christmas tree shines with light Thursday for the first time this season.
    Geoffrey Ritter/Du Quoin Call

 
 
updated: 12/1/2017 5:03 PM

It may not have been the Polar Express, but a train was still on hand Thursday night to help Du Quoin start the holidays.

A noisy freight train temporarily halted Mayor Guy Alongi's speech during the ceremonial Christmas tree lighting and Nativity presentation on Main Street, but Alongi quickly got back on track to thank Du Quoin citizens for their generosity.

That has included Du Quoin State Bank's donation of the large Christmas tree that now stands lit on Main Street, as well as the more than $17,000 citizens contributed this year to purchase new Christmas decorations for the downtown area.

State Rep. Terri Bryant also was on hand, praising the people of Du Quoin for creating a downtown Christmas atmosphere that rivals a Norman Rockwell painting.

"It's a good place to be tonight," Bryant said.

The ceremony also included the performance of two songs, "Silent Night" and "Away In a Manger," by students from Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Preschool.

Pastor Butch Patterson of Faith Assembly of God delivered an invocation, and Alongi led the crowd in the Lord's Prayer.

Lucy and MaKenna Milam, 8 and 7 respectively, got the honor of turning on the tree lights.

Next up, the city will play host to "Cookies with Santa" from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 14.

Each child attending will receive a cookie from Santa along with a free 4-by-6 photo of them with Santa.