Ava Harris

PHOTO BY CAITLIN ABLE

Ava Harris, a kindergartner at Morocco Elementary, hangs her handmade decoration at the base of the Christmas tree in downtown Morocco.

MOROCCO — The town of Morocco has gotten into the Christmas spirit with a tradition that spans over 50 years.

Early Tuesday morning, on Nov. 23, the children of the Morocco Elementary School came to the center of town, heralded by a police vehicle playing Christmas songs over the speakers, with handmade decorations in tow.

Aided by their teachers, volunteers, and members of the Morocco town board, they placed their ornaments on the enormous Christmas tree donated by the Newton County Fair. Preschool through sixth grade students spend time during the weeks prior creating ornaments that are laminated and brought to the tree to be hung.

Students were able to hang the ornaments themselves on lower branches, held tightly with zip-ties, but many were handed over to the volunteers to be hung around the top of the tree, lifted on scaffolding to reach the upper branches.

The tradition of having the children of Morocco decorate the tree in the center of town was established in the mid-1900s, according to board members, but it was only reintroduced into the town’s annual celebrations in the last decade.

The decorating of the tree leads up to the main event of the holiday season in Morocco: the Christmas tree lighting, wherein the town will gather for an evening of festivities before lighting the tree downtown.

Guests will be able to have their picture taken with Santa from 1-3 p.m., and he will be giving out gifts to the children who visit him. Additionally, there will be a “Santa’s Workshop” craft station.

A chili supper/cook off will be taking place during the festivities, from 2-4 p.m., and winners will be announced prior to the lighting of the tree.

Beginning at dusk, a parade of vehicles decorated with lights and other embellishments will make its way through Morocco, beginning at the pool and making its way down Main Street.

Following the parade, Christmas carols will be sung around the tree, and it will be lit, closing the festivities and beginning the holiday season in Morocco.

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