State College Lights Up Downtown To Ring In Holiday Season

State College was aglow with the holiday spirit as community members came together for festivities to Light Up Downtown on Thursday night.

The second annual event, organized by the Downtown State College Improvement District, featured a seasonal timed light show in the Martin Luther King Plaza on South Fraser Street and on Calder Way between Fraser and Pugh streets, the lighting of the tree at the Allen Street Gates, a visit from Santa, and more festivities throughout the evening.

“The holidays are a magical time and our goal is to transform downtown State College into a winter wonderland where people of all ages will find joy,” Lee Anne Jeffries, DSCID executive director, said last week. “We encourage the community to rediscover our unique local businesses during this time, grab a bite to eat, and check some things off their shopping list.”

Thursday’s festivities kicked off at the MLK Plaza with hot cocoa, popcorn, balloon animals, activities, and photos with Santa.

The light show at the plaza began with a specially choreographed performance by dancers from the Central PA Dance Workshop.

Young dancers from the Central PA Dance Workshop perform on Thursday, November 18, at the MLK Plaza in State College. Photo by Geoff Rushton |

Several families were selected at random to join Santa on a trolley ride to light up other parts of downtown. This year’s display also includes lights at the Centennial Walkway, the Enchanted Forest tree decorating challenge highlighting local nonprofits and live trees, and a gingerbread couple at the community garden on Calder Way.

Santa reads the names of families picked to join him on a trolley ride through downtown State College. Photo by Geoff Rushton |

Santa and the trolley will return from 5 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 3 for First Friday. Trolley rides also will be available from 5 to 8 p.m. on December 4, 10, and 11.

Light Up Downtown will be on display through January 2.

The light show in the MLK Plaza displays a variety of changing colors and patterns every night through Janunary 2. Photos by Geoff Rushton |
Photo by Geoff Rushton |
An illuminated bear and snowman can be found in MLK Plaza as part of Light Up Downtown. Photos by Geoff Rushton |
Light Up Downtown culminated with the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Allen Street Gates. This year’s evergreen was donated by the Dunmire Family. Photo by Geoff Rushton |

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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