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It's Christmas time in the city: Lighting on the Commons kicks off holiday season

Hundreds gathered Saturday for Lighting on the Commons to watch as thousands of twinkling lights lit up downtown Moline.

MOLINE, Ill. — The tree is lit, the wreaths are hung and the holiday season has officially kicked off in the Quad Cities.

Hundreds gathered at the John Deere Commons on Saturday to watch the annual Lighting on the Commons. Kids were able to take a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus, there were horse drawn carriage rides and plenty of hot chocolate and Christmas carols to go around. 

"It's kind of been a tradition for many years now, and we just love coming down here and it kicks off the holiday season," Sarah York said. 

She's been coming with her daughter for the past six years, with the exception of last year when the event was cancelled. 

"We were really bummed last year that we didn't get to come down here because like I said, it kicks off the holiday season," York said. "Getting to see the lights and the fireworks, just so much fun...We're thankful that they do it every year and we get to come down and hang out." 

Breanna Hinkle and her family have also made it a tradition to come to the tree lighting. This year her seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter asked Santa for a puppy.

"The kids really really love just the whole spirit of everything," Hinkle said. "I think it's just the atmosphere of, you know, just the Santa and Mrs. Claus, the hay rides, the horses, the things to look forward to that aren't like standard anywhere else. You can come here and see them."

Rachel Billingsly attended for the first time this year. Her kids are almost teenagers now, but she said she's always wanted to come. 

"We met up with friends tonight, so it was a great time to try it," Billingsly said. "The weather's perfect. We're excited for the fireworks and seeing the lights."

The official tree lighting at 6:00 p.m. closed out the evening, lighting up approximately 30,000 lights on the TaxSlayer Center Christmas tree and thousands of others around the commons. The tree lighting was followed by a fireworks show that organizers said was twice the size as past years.