Unseasonably warm weather helped bring hundreds of people to the annual Jasper County Courthouse Lighting celebration on Friday. The streets in downtown Newton were lined with several rows of excited spectators who counted down as the lights were turned on and stayed to watch the lighted parade which saw a growing number of participants.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better night,” Newton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Price said. “We had more entries in the parade this year than we have ever had. We had a big crowd and it was a lot of fun.”
Crowds showed up early to take a free horse and carriage ride, listen to holiday music, view the live models at Olive ‘et Boutique and Fine Things Reclaimed and take in the Festival of Trees inside the courthouse. Local 4-H groups decorated trees under the theme “The Giving Tree” with several clubs adopting local organizations or charity to support. They will then donate the items under their tree, or the decorations themselves to their selected organization.
Ushering in the main event were Jim and Kathy Fallon who were selected by the courthouse lighting committee to “flip the switch” and bring to life the thousands of sparkling lights decorating the building. Longtime committee member Steve Knight said he was so happy when he drew the Fallons’ names out of the hat for the honor.
“It was very exciting,” Kathy Fallon said.
Eager spectators didn’t have to wait long for the lighted parade to make its way down First Avenue and around the courthouse, filled with unique entries for local businesses and organizations in Newton. From little ones driving in pint-size cars to a recreated wind turbine, the parade had a little something for everyone.
“I love doing this because Newton is so receptive to it,” ReMax Real Estate Agent Julie Rose said. “The courthouse is cool, the people are so happy and it is just a fun feeling to just to walk up and see all of the people.”
Rose, along with several of her fellow agents, carried lighted stars on the parade route as a part of the celebration. Many community leaders were also in town for the event including councilman Craig Trotter. Trotter said he was amazed by the number of people who came downtown for the festivities.
“It went great,” Trotter said. “It is fantastic to see everyone out here, Newton is moving and the crowd is coming back.”
Following the parade, kids were eager to make their way to the courthouse to have some one-on-one time with Santa Claus. After closing out the parade, the man of the hour took his spot on the second floor of the building to hear Christmas wishes from children of all ages.
“The chamber is happy to provide a fun event like this in coordination with the Jasper County Courthouse,” Price said. “It was a really great night. It seems like people are happy and it was a community bonding type event and it’s a great way to kick off the holiday season here in Newton.”
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or firstname.lastname@example.org