The city of Greenville continues to reign in the holiday spirit as it hosts Greenville Gives, an annual tree-lighting ceremony, on Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the city’s centerpoint, Five Points Plaza.
Meredith Hawke, the events and branding director for Uptown Greenville, has worked with a committee of about a dozen members over the past year to organize the event’s activities. She said Greenville Gives is hosted by not only Uptown Greenville, but the city of Greenville, the Chamber of Commerce and the city’s Recreation and Parks department as well.
“The nature of Greenville Gives is that it welcomes area nonprofits and the attendees of the event are invited to bring items to donate,” Hawke said. “Greenville is giving you a beautiful tree-lighting ceremony and wonderful community performances, which really stitch the community together.”
Attendees of the event should expect to gather at the plaza to enjoy holiday readings, carols, hot chocolate, rides on a great Santa bus and a tree-lighting ceremony, Hawke said. She said event goers are encouraged to give back to local nonprofits by donating items to the charities present during the holiday celebration.
Tree-lighting ceremonies traditionally mark the beginning of the holiday season, Hawke said. She added, Greenville Gives is the kick-off event for the holiday weekend and is soon-after followed by a Christmas Parade which takes place the next day at 5 p.m. in Uptown Greenville which is hosted by the Greenville Jaycees.
The event typically appeals to families within the community, but it is open to everyone who would like to participate, Hawke said. She said a wide range of attendees have been seen over the years as the annual event continues to grow.
Last year, an estimated 2,000 people attended, making it the “biggest year yet,” according to Hawke. However, this year she said she expects the 2018 event to host an even larger turn out.
“I absolutely love the community feel you get from the event,” Hawke said. “It’s just a beautiful evening to really love your city, love where you live and celebrate amongst your fellow community members by kicking off the beautiful holiday season.”
Events Coordinator for Greenville Recreation and Parks Department, Patricia Tyndall, was also a member of the Greenville Gives Committee which organized the event.
Greenville Gives will be supporting several charities including the Ronald McDonald House, Food Bank Central & Eastern North Carolina, Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army Canteen, Emerge, the American Cancer Society/Hope Lodge of Greenville and Robbie’s Clubhouse, according to Tyndall.
“Businesses such as Sup Dogs, Krispy Kreme and Insomnia Cookies will be donating treats to the event,” Tyndall said. “The holiday market will additionally be including vendors selling food and gifts.”
Tyndall said the event was originally organized as a modest holiday ceremony where the mayor would read “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” After moving the event to Five Points Plaza around five or six years ago, it has grown into a festive and wonderful celebration, she said.
The city of Greenville’s Mayor, P.J. Connelly, is scheduled to continue the traditions of years past and read the story “Twas the Night Before Christmas” during the event. Connelly said he is looking forward to reading and interacting with all of the families in attendance.
“Greenville Gives has grown into one of the city’s best events of the year and I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” Connelly said. “It offers something for people of all ages. Which includes food, arts, crafts and performances by local talent, while also bringing the community together to give back and support a variety of local charities.”