BLUFFTON — It’s an annual tradition in Bluffton, the Blaze of Lights, the official kickoff to the holiday season in the village.
This was the 31st year for the Blaze.
Each year, the Bluffton Chamber of Commerce along with the village of Bluffton and local businesses, organize the event, which brings in thousands of people.
“I’ve probably seen all but one, when the team went to state for football,” Marcia Gallant said.
Gallant was there with her daughter, her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren.
“It just brings them all together and it’s a feeling of just goodness and kindness and just joy and it makes everybody happy,” she said.
During the day, many of Bluffton’s downtown shops were open for Small Business Saturday, giving shoppers a chance to check out the stores and begin their Christmas shopping.
“I think small business is great and people are very supportive in this community. We get a lot of lookers on this night because they’re with their families but a lot of times they’ll return just to come and purchase the item,” said Connie Kruse, night manager at Town and Country Flowers.
“It’s great to have all these people in the community come in and even come from all different towns and then they get to see what’s downtown in Bluffton. It’s such a great community to be a part of,” she added.
At 5 p.m. the Blaze of Lights Parade wound its way down Main Street.
This year’s parade had 90 units. The parade grand marshal was Aaron Antrim, a Mercy Life Flight helicopter pilot. Life Flight is based out of the Bluffton Airport.
Of course Santa and Mrs. Claus stopped by to spread some holiday cheer and later took the little boys and girls Christmas lists inside the Bluffton Senior Center.
After the parade, people could enjoy live entertainment.
At 7 p.m., it was the lighting of the Ream folk art display on the lawn of the Bluffton Presbyterian Church.
Fairy Parkins was the honorary “switch hitter.”
Harry Ream started the tradition in 1938 when he started making and displaying Christmas decorations at his home.
By the mid 1980s, the Reams donated 168 wood cutouts to the village of Bluffton. Local artist Terry Mullenhour has added more wooden cutouts throughout the years.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.