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Take a mild December evening, mix in some caroling, add a dose of hot chocolate and some cookies, and announce the Lincoln Luminary Award for 2017, and you’ve got yourself a winter welcoming celebration right here in Lincoln.

It all happened at Tower Square at 12th and P streets on a Friday evening. As people began to gather for the Dec. 1 celebration, they were welcomed by the music of aCaFellas, a singing group from Pius X High School. These young men enjoy singing together, and the Winter Lights Festival was one of their first public performances.

Under the glow of Ascent, the lighted tower, Mayor Chris Beutler offered a welcome to the crowd and explained that each year the Lincoln Luminary Award recognizes the contribution of one or two Lincoln residents. The special recognition is given to someone who has gone above and beyond in making an impact on Lincoln, who demonstrates the values of Lincoln and who has displayed consistent and intentional actions over a lifetime. The 2018 recipients were Dennis and Nancy Carlson. Beutler shared some of the details of why they were selected.

“The two of them have contributed a great deal to Lincoln through simple acts of kindness, such as a home-cooked meal when there’s illness or death in the family,” Beutler said. “They’ve provided shelter when fire destroyed a friend’s home, they’ve served at the People’s City Mission, helped with the Foster Care Review Board and served their church in many ways.”

As the crowd enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate provided by the Downtown Lincoln Association and the Lincoln Parks Foundation, the choir from Iglesia De La Comunidad church provided more musical entertainment, inviting everyone to join them in singing some familiar carols.

Since it was so early in December, Santa and Mrs. Claus found the time to drop in for a visit. They flew in on a sleigh and conveniently found a landing zone atop the Larson Building adjacent to Tower Square.

The evening culminated with a tree lighting ceremony. With children at the giant switch, Beutler did a countdown and when he hit zero, the switch was thrown and the twinkle light-filled trees in Tower Square came to life.

An event of this nature takes a lot of coordination. The Winter Lights event involved input from the mayor’s office, Lincoln Parks and Recreation, Downtown Lincoln Association, Leadership Lincoln, Lincoln Parks Foundation, Pius X High School and Iglesia De La Comunidad Church. Not only did they work together to welcome winter, they arranged for some wonderful weather to boot.

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