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Snellville lights Christmas tree at City Hall

Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski Snellville started the holiday season by lighting its Christmas tree Saturday in front of City Hall on U.S. Highway 78. 

Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski Snellville started the holiday season by lighting its Christmas tree Saturday in front of City Hall on U.S. Highway 78. 

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SNELLVILLE -- The crowd of hundreds lit candles and sang "Silent Night" moments before Snellville turned on the lights for its 28-foot Christmas tree in front of City Hall on Saturday night.

Residents came out to spend time with friends and family, plus engage in all of the Christmas fun. The festival offered face painting, carriage rides, live music, free activities for the children and opportunities for a photo with Santa Claus.

"I come every year and I love all of the extra activities that are going on," Georgiana Britt of Snellville said. "There are a lot more people this year and the crowd seems really into everything that's happening."

One big change for 2011 is that the tree was moved closer to U.S. Highway 78.

"I think bringing the tree over to the green this year really made a difference," Snellville council member Tom Witts said. "More people can see it now."

When the sun set, everyone came closer together to sing carols and wait to officially begin the holiday season. At 7 p.m., Mayor Kelly Kautz and Santa Claus counted down together and the tree illuminated with thousands of white lights.

"Next year, we're thinking about bumping up the tree higher," Witts said. "But hopefully every year, (the event) will get bigger and better."