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Lawrenceville welcomes Christmas with 25th annual tree lighting

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan More than 1,000 people gather at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse to watch the 25th Annual Tree Lighting of the 35 foot tree in downtown Lawrenceville on Thursday.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan More than 1,000 people gather at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse to watch the 25th Annual Tree Lighting of the 35 foot tree in downtown Lawrenceville on Thursday.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Jonathan Odom, 5, of Jefferson plays under holiday decorations with Emma Tunnell, 8, and other family members during the 25th Annual Tree Lighting Celebration with Santa in downtown Lawrenceville at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse Thursday.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Children react as Mr. and Mrs. Claus walk by during the 25th Annual Tree Lighting Celebration in downtown Lawrenceville at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse Thursday.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Anna Schutz, 2, dances on the shoulders of her father Jim, alongside Eric Knapp and his son Lucas, 3, during the 25th Annual Tree Lighting Celebration with Santa in downtown Lawrenceville at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse on Thursday.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mr. and Mrs. Claus wave to more than 1,000 people who attended the 25th Annual Tree Lighting Celebration in downtown Lawrenceville at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse on Thursday.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Move over turkey -- Santa Claus has, technically, already come to town.

For the last quarter-century, the city of Lawrenceville has ushered in the Christmas season on Thanksgiving night, welcoming residents to the town square to sing, mingle and witness the lighting of a massive tree.

Thursday was no different. With a live band, caroling and tryptophan naps successfully warded off, a 35-foot spruce lit up the night with multi-colored bulbs and as-big-as-your-head ornaments. Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrived in style, led by a troupe of dancing elves and waving comfortably from the back of a flatbed truck.

Seven-year-old Tienna Miles, attending the festivities for about the fifth straight year, was impressed.

"It's really cool," she said.

Miles and sister Myleen, 8, -- not to mention mom, whose 'do was still in progress -- were among the scores of girls in the Lawrenceville Square who got wacky "Whoville hair" done Thursday in the style of Dr. Suess' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

"(We like it) because there's nice booths and everybody you meet is so nice to you," Myleen Miles said.

Crowds began gathering around downtown Lawrenceville just before 5 p.m., enjoying arts and crafts booths, the "Elf Lodge" and a lively band. After 6 p.m. rolled around, emcee Randy Travis -- the reporter from WAGA-TV, not the country singer -- got the crowd geared up for the main events.

Without a formal countdown, a tree was lit outside the courthouse for the 25th consecutive year.

"The kids like the lighting of the tree, we like the atmosphere," Lawrenceville resident Debra Hall, Tienna and Myleen's grandmother, said. "It's a lot of fun."

Marcus Miller, wife Brandy and their children, ages 3 and 5, moved to Lawrenceville about two years ago. They heard about the tree lighting last-minute Thursday and decided on a whim to go.

All four chuckled together while taking photos among brightly lit, cone-shaped Christmas "trees."

Better than slipping into a coma on the couch, Marcus Miller said.

"At this time of the night you're either halfway asleep or reaching for a second dessert," he said. "It gets you out of the house and let's you mingle."

Added Brandy Miller: "We're just trying to bring in the Christmas season."