Photos: The 2021 Cary Christmas Tree Lighting

Cary, NC — On Saturday, December 4th at the Town Hall Campus, I experienced my very first Cary Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Even more special than it being my first is that Mayor Harold Weinbrecht called it the largest crowd he’s ever seen at the well-loved annual event that was moved to an entirely virtual format last year.

As a newcomer to the tradition, I had heard that a few performances took place before the flipping of the switch moment. That proved to be quite an understatement as I was pretty amazed to see a total of eight performances hit the stage in the one-hour show, filled with local singers, musicians and dancers.

Emcee Dan Pike made it a fun experience for all, even with a train interruption, announcing each act starting with the Concert Singers of Cary who sang a selection of songs from their upcoming Holiday Pops performance on Saturday, December 11 at the Cary Arts Center. Other musical performances included the works of the Justice Theater Project, Brianne and Ian Koff, Sabrina Palazzo and Hanne Hansen, a junior at Cary High School.

As for dancers, there were two acts. Starting things off was Cary’s Graceful Expressions Dance Company who achieved something I didn’t think possible—silencing and engaging what had to be at least 1,000 spectators all at once. Combining movement with spoken word, the piece encouraged all to not only find their light but to share it with the world. Then, a few performances later were the whimsical duo of Joel and Jackie Plys. Together they are called Retro Rhythm and they each share a background in swing dancing and instructing in Cary.

Closing out the already impressive lineup of the night was the Red & Green Hope Quintet, a string ensemble from Green Hope High School. Then the moment came that all had waited for.

Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, members of Cary’s Town Council and the 2021 Hometown Spirit Award recipient, Sarah Martin arrived on the stage. The countdown began, the switch was flipped and just like that, I had witnessed my first ever Cary tree lighting. There was a beauty about standing back and watching neighbors I’d never met enjoy the sight of the tree and take all sorts of fun pictures with it. For any who weren’t able to experience the 2021 Cary Christmas Tree Lighting, I did my best to capture it for you in this series of photos. Enjoy!

The Concert Singers of Cary are a 30-year organization resident of The Cary Arts Center. In its totality, the chorus includes 120 members.

Well over 1,000 attendees sat, stood and even danced around a bit for the return of the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Cary.

Sabrina Palazzo, a Triangle native and Appalachian State grad smiled big throughout the song as it was her first time back on stage since 2020.

The dancers of Graceful Expressions Dance Company brought a memorable and reflective piece of choreography to the Saturday celebration.

The dynamic duo known as Retro Rhythm had all smiling with their happy and whimsical steps, particularly the group of young kids dancing right along with them in the front.

No strangers to microphones, Brianne and Ian Koff put together a beautiful mix of vocals and classical piano.

Local high school students make up the festive sounding Red & Green Hope Quintet.

Following performances, Mayor Harold Weinbrecht addressed the crowd and called on Hometown Spirit Award winner Sarah Martin to light Cary’s Christmas Tree for the first time of the season.

Following the lighting of the tree, many gathered around it for photos with family.

Story and photos by Ashley Kairis.

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