The tree arrived downtown at 8 a.m., Nov. 21, at Parc Sans Souci, and a crew of about 15 stood ready to string it with more than 1,500 lights, decorate it with shiny red balls and place the star on top. Twenty-five feet tall and weighing more than 2,000 pounds, the Christmas tree will serve as the city's sign of the holiday season and be lit in a public ceremony Saturday, Nov. 26, at Parc Sans Souci.

"We noticed that Lafayette never had an official tree before, one that everyone in the city could enjoy," says Downtown Lafayette Unlimited's David D'Aquin. "DLU bought the tree and made the investment, and we thought what better place to have the tree than in the center of the city." The tree comes from downtown business Evangeline Specialties, which specializes in seasonal decorations for cities.

Officially named "Twas the Light Before Christmas," the tree lighting is one of numerous events planned for Nov. 26. The Louisiana Crafts Guild and Children's Museum of Acadiana will hold a crafts market with children's activities in the park from noon-8 p.m., and the Alexandre Mouton House, Acadiana Center for the Arts and Lafayette Natural History Museum & Planetarium will offer free admission all day. At dusk, around 5:45 p.m., City-Parish President Joey Durel will light the Lafayette Christmas tree. A holiday downtown ArtWalk will follow from 6-8 p.m., along with a Music Market at Nitetown from 5-8 p.m. and open house at IberiaBank for viewing of its Winter Wonderland and Santa's Workshop.

Although Lafayette's Christmas tree is artificial, two live spruce pines were planted in the park earlier this month to eventually take the place of the first tree. D'Aquin says the pines should be ready for decorations and lights next year. This year's big tree will be lit through New Year's. "[The lights] come on with a photo sensor," D'Aquin says. "As soon as it gets dark, the lights are on."

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