"Light Up Night" draws a holiday crowd in Appleton

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - It was a chilly night for one of the first big events kicking off the holiday season.

Light Up Night festival

With a quick countdown, Houdini Plaza in downtown Appleton was lit up with a Christmas tree, marking the unofficial start of the holiday season.

This year's "Light Up Night" drew a cheerful crowd in downtown Appleton.

"It's nice to see people of all ages, all backgrounds coming in to the plaza to enjoy an event," Nicole Van Hout, event organizer for the Trout Museum of Art, said. "We do have something for everyone here, so it's nice to see everyone come together and enjoy an event together."

The "Light Up Night" event was launched for the first time last year by the Trout Museum of Art. Because of its success, activities this year were expanded outside the plaza to businesses up and down College Avenue which participated with their own decorations, plus special offers and refreshments.

"It was just in Houdini last year, but we've completely expanded it so it's running the length of College Avenue from the history museum to the PAC. We have something for everyone going on, we have food trucks, live music, four different sound states, free carriage rides, light-up jugglers, stilt walkers, you name it, we have it," Van Hout said.

Organizers say the goal is to get people in the holiday spirit while showing off what downtown Appleton has to offer.

"You know a lot of people are shopping online and everything, but if you want the real holiday shopping experience shop local, come down, visit our local shops, they're going to treat you really well. You're going to find unique gifts, a lot of really good people," said Mayor Tim Hanna.

Four different music stages were also set up, among other activities.

Pam Gauerke of Appleton said, "It's super fun. Even though it's cold we came for the carriage ride and we did that and we decorated cookies, and now we're going to get the balloon guy. We had the hot chocolate. It's just a nice way to get ready for Christmas."

Event organizers say the tree will remain up and on display throughout the holiday season.

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