The day after Thanksgiving brought holiday cheer to Jasper County as residents gathered on the Newton square to celebrate the season with the annual Courthouse Lighting and Lighted Holiday Parade.
The biggest moment of the night was the instant the lights strung up around the courthouse turned on after the countdown.
The countdown began with courthouse lighting committee member Steve Knight and his special guests, Tom and Janie Hollander, starting from 10, those in attendance chanted the numbers out loud together. Finally, the countdown reached zero and downtown Newton was washed with rays of light. With strings of lights hung all the way to the top of the courthouse, it transformed the historic building into the largest Christmas tree in the county.
“If we are talking about a Hallmark movie, it fits right in at least for Newton and Jasper County,” Knight said. “I love being a part of it.”
Typically, Knight has a special guest or two help flip the switch to the holiday lights adorning on the courthouse. This year, the Hollanders were given the honor of kicking off the holiday season for Jasper County.
“It was a surprise and an honor to have our names drawn,” Janie Hollander said.
Tom Hollander added, “It is a tradition that has been around since we have been in Newton, and we have been in Newton about 45 years ... It was a great honor.”
Even though the public has been able to see the lights strung all over the courthouse for a while now there is simply a different feeling when the bulbs illuminate the courthouse.
“Now you know it is Christmastime when those lights come on,” pastor at Community Heights Alliance Church Jeff Keady said.
The weather Friday night was cold and rainy which, at times, pushed some attendees into the courthouse. The turnout was good despite Mother Nature bringing some inclement weather; however, it didn’t put a dampen people’s holiday spirit.
“We usually come anyway,” Ken Moore of Colfax said.
There plenty of activities for people to take part in aside from the moment the lights turned on. There were carriage rides for family and of course Santa Claus made his appearance inside the courthouse for eager kids to line up and make their requests for Christmas.
“It’s nice for the community it gives people a sense of togetherness ... It’s great,” a member of maintenance with Jasper County Mike Hoover said.
Following the official lighting of the courthouse, the Lighted Holiday Parade helped light the downtown square. Several lighted vehicles made their way through the streets to the delight of onlookers.
“We like to come here every year,” Moore said.
The festival signifies the beginning of the holiday season and a way to bring the community together to celebrate and it is a tradition that has been running strong in Newton for decades now and hopefully decades to come.
“When there is so much division sometimes in society it is great to have opportunities for people to just get together,” Keady said.
Contact Dustin Teays at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or email@example.com