A festive weekend start to the holiday season culminated Sunday evening with the city's annual Festival of Lights celebration at Brandon Park.
Hundreds of people turned out at the park's band shell for a celebration hosted by the Milissa Augustine Dance Academy.
Typically staged in December, the event this year topped off the city's Home for the Holidays weekend that included Friday's Billtown Christmas Parade and Saturday's Victorian Christmas.
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
Young fans greet their favorite Disney princess after the princesses of the Milissa Augustine Dance Academy performed during the Festival of Lights in Brandon Park Sunday evening.
Lori Butler, of South Williamsport, who was on hand with her husband Tom, grandson Gavin and granddaughter Allysa, said she was glad to see the event scheduled earlier in the season.
"We've been coming for probably the last eight years. It's a lot colder in December," Butler said. "Sometimes before the show started, they'd be clearing snow off the benches."
The event featured dance academy students and members of the Pennsylvania College of Technology Wildcats Dance Team. They performed dance routines to upbeat holiday music.
Following the dancing, city Mayor Gabriel J. Campana beckoned three youthful volunteers to the stage to help him count down to the lighting of the trees in the park.
People in the crowd cheered their approval as dozens of trees adorned with Christmas lights by city workers were illuminated throughout the park.
"When they turn on the lights, it's absolutely beautiful," Butler said.
Augustine said she was pleased the festival was moved to an earlier date and noted a much larger turnout this year than in years past.
Campana, obviously pleased with the attendance, vowed the event would be held in November as long as he is mayor.
As befitting the Christmas holiday, the focus for the program was on children, Augustine said.
"We want to go with something that is charming and heartwarming," she said. "We put the program together to be viewed through the eyes of a child. It makes for a magical night in the park."
Augustine said a ripple of excitement emanated backstage among the younger dancers when Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived to participate in the festivities.
"This is a beautiful time of year," Butler said. "It's the first thing we do to get in the Christmas spirit. I think the dancers do a fabulous job. The little children are fun to watch."
Although weather for the event was dry, that may not be the case for Thanksgiving.
The National Weather Services forecast for Williamsport shows a possibility of rain or drizzle today.
Showers are likely on Tuesday. Wednesday will be mostly sunny and there is a chance of rain on Thanksgiving Day with a high near 43. Showers are likely Thursday night with a low around 30.
The Northern Tier could see similar weather patterns, although there is a chance of snow showers Friday, Friday night and Saturday.