Annual ‘Night of Lights’ Tree Lighting Ceremony Brings Holiday Cheer to Hamilton


Ryan Dugdale

Ryan Dugdale

Anastasia Thumser, Staff Writer

The village of Hamilton transformed into a picturesque winter scene on Friday, Dec. 2 for its annual Night of the Lights, marking the village tree lighting. The event featured wintertime decorations, hot chocolate, food from local businesses, a horse-drawn carriage ride, performances from some of Colgate University’s a cappella groups and an appearance from Santa Claus himself.

The Night of the Lights event draws excitement from both the Hamilton and Colgate communities each year, according to students, residents and business owners. Steve Malecki, owner of Brake From the Grind and Tacocat Food Co., confirms that his favorite part of the night is connecting with local residents.

“I love seeing a lot of friends and families I know,” Malecki said. “I live outside of Hamilton and have been a part of this community since I moved here around 2006. The outpouring of support [from the community] is what keeps me in business and helps me support more local farms, farmers, butchers, bakers and other artisans.” 

In addition to supporting local vendors, the Christmas tree lighting involves students from Hamilton Central School. The Hamilton branch of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) organization attended the event in order to raise money and awareness. 

“We made Christmas wreaths in our horticulture class, and so most of the money that we make from those wreaths goes towards buying more equipment,” FFA member Morgan Carven said. “The event is super fun, and we like getting more attention towards FFA.”

To add to the night’s holiday ambience, three of Colgate’s a cappella groups — the Dischords, Mantiphondrakes and Resolutions — performed classic holiday songs in front of the newly illuminated tree. 

Senior Jane Flynn, president of the Colgate Resolutions, shared her group’s positive experience performing at the event, which they try to participate in every year.

“Singing holiday songs at the tree lighting is such a fun experience that the Resos get to be a part of,” Flynn said. “We love seeing the Hamilton and Colgate communities get together for such an amazing holiday tradition and were so excited to spread our love of music with everyone.”

While the event primarily attracts Hamilton residents and young children, several university students attended the event for some holiday cheer. First-year Cailen Geller remarked that the event was well-attended and successfully meshed the Hamilton and Colgate communities together. 

“I really liked the hot chocolate stand and the community that showed up,” Geller said. “It felt very cozy and wholesome. The lights were super pretty, and the decorations created a great holiday spirit.”

Overall, the annual Night of the Lights tree lighting provided much-needed enthusiasm and community in the midst of a Hamilton winter, according to Colgate students.

“The event was great, especially considering the time of year it takes place,” Malecki said. “No matter the colder weather, we always have great support in Hamilton whenever we are there.”