tree

Residents gathered Friday night for the official city tree lighting in downtown Mansfield.

MANSFIELD -- A beloved tradition returned to downtown Mansfield on Friday night. Christmastime in the City included horse-drawn carriage rides, live music and lighting the city’s massive Christmas tree.

Local performers Jeffrey Boyd and Jody Odom Jr. both performed, accompanied by Sidney Brown on the keyboard.

Acting Mayor David Falquette and Tommy Barnes of Mix 106.1 led the crowd in a round of “Jingle Bells” before officially lighting the tree just before 6 p.m.

After the tree was lit, families and couples snapped pictures in front of the tree. 

Matt Shaffer decided to come after attending the event for the first time in 2019.

“It brings everybody together. It’s tradition,” he said. “Who doesn’t enjoy Christmas?”

Michael Neff, who works at the carrousel, said he looks forward to Mansfield lighting the Christmas tree every year.

"It's a Currier and Ives poster. It's like the Hallmark TV shows you see," he said. "It's wonderful to still have a place like that in America. I've lived in a lot of big cities. And they're nice, but they they lacked the charm that this has."

The annual event is co-hosted by Downtown Mansfield Inc. and Richland Carrousel Park. Last year it was changed to a virtual show due to state and local health guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lydia Rook was happy to be back this year, along with her husband, children and grandchildren.

The Rooks live on a 55-acre farm in Butler. The couple has provided the horse and carriage rides for Christmastime in the City for the last four or five years.

This year they brought four of their Percheron draft horses -- Daisy, Holly, Prince and Sailor -- along with a festive red sleigh and elegant white carriage.

Getting the horses ready is the most challenging part, but also a part Lydia enjoys.

"They don't come looking clean and white," she said. "It takes a lot of time."

The rides around the square remain one of the most popular attractions of the night. The line for rides spanned nearly a block by the time the tree was lit.

“I think this year there's more of a demand, but there's always been a nice line,” Lydia said.

Jennifer Kime, CEO of Downtown Mansfield Inc., was also pleased with the turnout.

"It was great to see so many families return to downtown to celebrate the holidays and enjoy the festivities, shops and dining in downtown," she said.

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Staff reporter focused on education and features. Clear Fork alumna. Always looking for a chance to practice my Spanish. You can reach me at katie@richlandsource.com