Music, holiday lights, and slightly cool temperatures set the stage for the prelude into the Chillicothe Christmas season, as a large crowd gathered for the traditional lighting ceremony of the Jenkins Townhouse Christmas Village Friday evening.

Chillicothe Mayor Chuck Haney, who served as the master of ceremonies, said the crowd was the largest it has been in the history of the lighting ceremonies, dating back to the 1970s.

The Central School Stinger, a vocal group comprised of around 100 fourth- and fifth-grade singers under the direction of Dan Venner, opened the program by singing several holiday songs.

After welcoming those in attendance, Haney introduced Major John Flannigan of the Salvation Army, who provided a Christmas prayer.

After giving recognition to those who helped make the evening's events possible, the mayor introduced Quentin Cranmer, a third-grade student at Field School, who was chosen to help Santa turn on the lights at the Christmas village.

Quentin, son of Roman and Janilla Cranmer, is a third-grader at Field School. In introducing Quentin, Haney said Quentin enjoys science and is creative.

"He is always kind and very respectful. He tries to find the best in every situation. When Quentin is faced with adversity or uncertainty, he rises to the occasion with dignity and grace. Quentin treats everyone equally, and is a friend to every student. He is responsible and always tries his best. Quentin is a wonderful example to his peers and a model student."

Soon after introducing Quentin, the Chillicothe Fire Department's fire truck arrived with Santa, among cheers from the crowd. Santa stepped onto the stage and he and Quentin threw the switch together, illuminating the Christmas village. The public was then invited to enter through the gate, tour the village, and visit with Santa. The line stretched toward the north end of the village, as youngsters waited their turn to sit on Santa's lap.

Several groups and individuals helped with the event, including Helen Griffin and the Jenkins Townhouse; the city of Chillicothe and the street department; the Department of Emergency Services and police department; the Chillicothe Rotary Club and lighting ceremony committee of Brian Wills, Robin Westphal, and Eric Turner; Major Flannigan and the Salvation Army Kettle kickoff, and Bank Midwest for monetary donations to the child chosen to help Santa turn on the lights.

Chillicothe Hy-Vee, as in past years, provided hot chocolate, and everyone was invited to walk through the majesty of lights and visit Santa.