If Black Friday shopping sprees, holiday tunes on the radio and neighborhood decorations weren't clear enough signals, Saturday night's tree lighting ceremony in Burr Performing Arts Park made it official: it's Christmas season in Dalton.

This was the first year of the ceremonial tree-lighting, and while rain hit Dalton shortly before the ceremony, showers stayed away during the event and temperatures were pleasantly in the 60s. Dalton's mayor, Dennis Mock, invited numerous children to the stage with him to "help" officially light the tree and he wished all attendees a "merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous new year."

Several parents were at the tree lighting with their young children, eager to make new holiday memories.

Michael and Cara Gunter brought their daughter, Avery, 2 -- actually Avery may have taken them as much as the other way around -- to the park, Cara said. "This was really for her, because we want her to have all the holiday experiences she can."

"She's already seen Santa twice this year and she loves him, now," Cara added with a chuckle. During Avery's initial Santa meeting in 2018, there was "some screaming."

That "growth" for Avery is part of the charm of Christmas adventures like the tree lighting, Michael said. "Last year, (Avery) didn't know what all the presents were about, but she understands a lot more now."

Jennifer Scroggins, who was at the park with her husband, Matt, and son, Sawyer, 3, shared similar sentiments, noting she's most excited to "see him grow and enjoy it more as he gets older and older."

Jennifer and Matt also plan to bring Sawyer to Caroling and Cocoa in the park Dec. 14, she said. "We hope they continue traditions" like that and the tree lighting.

Michael Gunter certainly hopes this tree lighting becomes an annual tradition, he said. "If they do this every year, we can bring (Avery) every year."

Matt Scroggins echoed similar thoughts.

"We (like) this atmosphere and something new at the park," he said. "I'm always up for growth."

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