The countdown to Christmas has already begun but Marietta residents will be counting down to another special event Friday evening.
A 30-foot spruce, which stands downtown on the armory lawn, will be gleaming with lights at the stroke of 6 p.m., as the annual tree lighting event gets underway.
"We are pleased to carry on this tradition that was started by the Citizens Armory Preservation Society to recognize our veterans and their families at Christmas," said Mayor Michael Mullen in a release.
Pamela and David Oliver of Devola donated the spruce tree, which they had nurtured for 20 years, and decided to give as a gift to the community.
The holiday celebration will begin at 5:30 p.m. with music from the Holiday Brass Quintet and carol singing led by Kelsey Laughery.WASCO Inc. will provide refreshments again this year, according to executive director Jan Powell.
"We have hot chocolate with marshmallows - for free - and we're actually doubling up this year," she said. "This is just a way for us to give back to the community for all that they have done for (WASCO)."
If you go
What: Marietta's annual tree lighting ceremony followed by Merry-Etta Moonlight Savings events.
Where: Armory square, Front Street and downtown Marietta and Harmar Village.
When: Friday, starting at 5:30 p.m.; tree lighting at 6 p.m. Participating stores will stay open until midnight.
Details: Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit; refreshments and musical entertainment will be offered.
For information about Hometown Holidays events: www.mariettaohio.org.
The jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus, and Mrs. Claus will also make an appearance Friday evening to meet all the boys and girls.
And if mom and dad can hardly wait to get some shopping done, the tree lighting ceremony serves as a kickoff to Merry-Etta Moonlight Savings, when participating merchants in downtown Marietta and Harmar Village will be open until midnight Friday.
This event is part of Hometown Holidays, a joint effort of ReStore Marietta and the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"I have attended (the event) since I first moved to Marietta two years ago," said Angela Nazworth, who works downtown at Peoples Bank. "I love to bundle up and carry a mug of hot chocolate as I walk downtown and visit all the shops. I feel as if I get transported into a Norman Rockwell painting each time I attend a Hometown Holiday event."
Free carriage rides will be offered from 6 to 8 p.m. by Baker & Baker Jewelers outside their store at 105 Putnam St., and by Schafer Leather from 6 to 9 p.m. outside their store at 140 Front St.
Other Hometown Holiday events include a Holiday Loft Tour through some unique Marietta residences and businesses on Saturday, a Victorian Tea at the Lafayette Hotel and Sweetapple Farms Live Nativity Dec. 22 and 23.