Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The Christmas season begins in earnest Saturday in Havre with the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Town Square, the arrival of Santa Claus and his wife, and refreshments and entertainment planned including dancing and caroling. “Usually a lot of people show up to support (the event),” as long as the weather cooperates, said Debbie Vandeberg, executive director of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce. This is about the seventh year the event has been held at the Town Square, built on the 300 block of First Street. Before the square was created, the town Christmas tree was placed each year at the intersection of Third Avenue and Second Street, and the tree-lighting festivities were held there. The tree-lighting, while it will be a focus of the gathering Saturday, is just one of the events kicking off this weekend. The Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line is holding a lunch with Santa starting at noon, the VFW Hall is hosting A Cowboy Christmas at 5:30 p.m. and the St. Jude’s Christmas Bazaar is running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with other events running through Christmas in the community. Vandeberg said the square is pretty well set for the event Saturday, with Terry Schend, a city council member who teaches in the College of Technology at Montana State University-Northern, coordinating a group of volunteers to decorate the tree, Mayor Bob Rice “and his wonderful Christmas elves” helping with decorating the poles, and Vandeberg and other volunteers hanging lamps on the light posts. The tree lighting kicks off at 5:30 p.m., with a welcome by Rice and the lighting of the tree, and weather permitting entertainment planned with a choir from St. Jude Thaddeus School to perform, as well as dancers from the North Star Dance Studio scheduled to do some routines. Santa and Mrs. Claus are expected to arrive some time after the tree is lit. The outlook for the weather is not the best. The National Weather Service is forecasting a low of -3 Friday night, with a high of 12 and partly sunnyWeather Saturday and a low around zero Saturday night. At least one other group could help abate that chill: Havre’s Masonic Lodge No. 55 will have chili and hot chocolate available as a fundraiser to benefit the Hi-Line Sletten Cancer Center being constructed near Northern Montana Hospital. “We figured we’d like to do something for the cancer center,” Mason Bill Bilger said. The Chamber Ambassadors, who help coordinate the tree lighting, are also holding a benefit at both the tree-lighting and the lunch with Santa earlier at the Boys & Girls Club. The Ambassadors will be accepting donations of food at both events in a drive to benefit the Havre Community Food Bank. Vandeberg said any group that would like to set up a table or booth, free of charge, at the tree-lighting is welcome. “The more the merrier and the more activities that go on the better the event will be,” she said.