Greenville's Christmas Tree stands at the corner of West Fifth Street and Evans Street.

The annual Greenville Gives celebration in Uptown Greenville will take place on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. families to attend and celebrate the holiday season.

Greenville Gives will offer free treats, will have a tree lighting ceremony and a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” from Greenville’s Mayor P.J. Connelly.

Greenville Gives was started to celebrate the mark of the holidays with the tree lighting and collect donations for those in the Greenville community, Connelly said. Similar to previous holiday events, this one will include band performances, dances from local dance studios and a visit from Santa Claus, he said.

“It’s exciting to have all the children down there and to be able to get them excited about Christmas time and of course it’s a great community event for everyone to gather and have a good time and be able to prepare for the Christmas season,” Connelly said.

“Twas the Night Before Christmas,” the story is read annually by the Mayor of Greenville will be read again by Connelly. Following the story’s end will be the tree lighting to set the holiday cheer for the season, Connelly said.

Connelly said one of his favorite holiday traditions is spending time with and being able to enjoy the Christmas season with his children, wife and immediate family. Spending time with his family is his favorite thing to do during the holidays like most families around this time with it being a time to come together.

“Of course the tree lights are our biggest event over the holidays and the day after there will be a parade and there will be multiple other events going on in the City of Greenville,” Connelly said.

Greenville Gives provides a chance for the people of Greenville to support nonprofits by making monetary donations and donations like toys, paper towels, hygiene items and socks, Patricia Tyndall, marketing and events coordinator for the City of Greenville said.

Visitors can take in the annual tree lighting, give to the donation collection to benefit those in need in the Greenville area as well as enjoy crafts and activities, Tyndall said.

Tyndall said donations can be made to the participating nonprofits: Greene County Community Health Centers, Toys for Tots, The Food Bank of Eastern NC, Salvation Army, The American Cancer Society/Hope Lodge, Robbie’s Clubhouse, The Greenville Jaycees, The Ronald McDonald House, City of Greenville PAL Program/Police Athletic League and Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greenville.

This event is the official kick-off of the holidays and the season of giving says Tyndall or Greenville recreation and parks. It also is the City of Greenville’s annual tree lighting. It’s festive fun for the community and an opportunity for the city to celebrate the season, she said.

“This event is a dose of holiday magic. For two hours, everyone can come together and share in the wonder and spirit of the season. From the arrival of Santa, to the sound of the horse and carriage circling the street to the snow falling and the pop of the crackling fire where everyone can roast marshmallows, it begins to look and feel a lot like Christmas in Five Points Plaza,” Tyndall said.

Nicholas Cottrell, a freshmen intended nursing major, said holidays are different for him to spend in Greenville because of the temperature difference since he is a New Jersey native. When it started to get colder at East Carolina University he started to get a glimpse of the holidays.

Cottrell said he is looking forward to going to this event since that will be one of his last days in Greenville before the holidays and basic training with the army in the new semester. With this being one of the biggest holiday events of the season, he said he hopes to take it all in and use this as a mind reliever before exams.

“Some of my favorite holiday traditions (back home) are going to the Christmas tree place and picking out a tree to put inside of our living room, decorating our kitchen with wreaths and other small, festival ornaments,” Cottrell said.

Cottrell said Greenville has made it seem like the holidays with Uptown being decorated with wreaths, lights and ornaments. Despite the weather being warmer most days, the decorum helped him transition into the spirit, he said.

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