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A Civil War Monument soldier stands guard over the Christmas tree on the Canton Village Green in 2017. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — On the eve before Thanksgiving, hundreds of lights will illuminate the heart of the village, marking the start of Canton’s 36th annual Holiday of Lights celebration.

The Holiday of Lights committee, comprised of business owners and other community members, is organizing adapted festivities as the COVID-19 pandemic and gatherings continue to be public health hazards.

“This is such a tradition here,” coordinator J. Bradshaw “Brad” Mintener said, adding that he couldn’t fathom not honoring the tradition at all. “So we’re taking Santa Claus to the kids.”

The celebration on the Canton Village Green typically involves carol singing, appearances from Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Sparky the Dalmation Fire Dog, hot chocolate, books for children and the lighting of the village trees.

The village Department of Public Works finished stringing lights this week, and lighting will take place Wednesday night, though no park gathering is planned.

Santa will instead board Canton’s antique fire truck with Sparky and wave to families along the village’s residential streets starting at noon Saturday.

In partnership with the Canton Chamber of Commerce, the Holiday of Lights committee is also sponsoring a home decorating contest for village and town residents, who can register by Dec. 10. A short registration card can be downloaded on the municipal website and dropped off at the municipal building, 60 Main St., or emailed to the Chamber at

A panel of local judges will begin reviewing entrants’ decorations in December in three categories, each carrying a cash prize: best outside house decorating for $250; best front yard tree or trees for $200; and best children’s front yard art project for $100.

Mr. Mintener said the home decorating contest has no limitations and encouraged residents to be creative. The prize funds, he said, have been donated by community members in honor of children and grandchildren.

The Chamber is hosting a separate storefront decorating contest for Canton businesses.

Questions about the home decorating contest should be directed to Mr. Mintener at 315-386-2585 or Chamber Executive Director Tammy M. Mackin at 315-261-8633.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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