OCALA, Fla. – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Ocala. Utility crews are putting up lights across downtown and garland is wrapped around poles complete with a bow.
“It’s a little early but I’m feeling hopeful it will be a pleasant Christmas,” Ocala resident Lee White said.
“It just brings an excitement to the downtown area,” Ocala resident Albert Peek said.
Light Up Ocala, a nearly 40-year tradition, typically involves a large event in November downtown with live music, vendors, and family activities.
“This year is a little different, the city council decided to not have a large-scale event this year, but a series of smaller more modified holiday events,” Ocala spokesperson Ashley Dobbs said.
Click here for more information on Light Up Ocala and holiday events.
Visitors can still expect some 320,000 lights glistening throughout downtown. With the stresses of COVID-19 and election season, some people say this is exactly what this city needs.
“I love the lights, I love Christmastime and I love to see this bring some good cheering up for everybody,” said visitor Juanita Mattingly.
Holiday plans may have changed for some families, but some people in Ocala said the lights bring some type of normalcy to this unprecedented year.
“I would be going North to see my children and grandchildren, but this year I will be in Ocala so I will enjoy the lights,” said White.
Peek was born and raised in Ocala and says the event has been getting larger and larger every year. Although the event will be smaller this year, Peek said he will still continue the family tradition of seeing the lights.
“Now we have grandkids and now they’re coming down to see the lights and Christmas Tree. It’s pageantry that’s second to none,” said Peek.
You may catch utility crews testing some of the lights now, but Light Up Ocala is expected to begin the week of November 15th and run through the end of January.