The Christmas season officially opened in Paris last Saturday when the 18th annual Trail of Holiday Lights Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Parade took place.

Estimates put the number of people on hand at around 5,000. Several who participated in the parade said the crowd was several people deep through the entire parade route.

Before the parade, more than 100,000 lights on the Logan County Courthouse and around Courthouse Square were switched on by Logan County Judge Gus Young and Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers.

The parade route took units from the Cloyes Gear and Products, Inc. parking lot east on West Walnut, around Courthouse Square and then east on East Walnut to its intersection with Fifth Street. It took the more than 100 units in the parade an hour to travel from the parade start line through Courthouse Square.

Units in the parade were judged and prizes were awarded for first through third place. First place was won by Denim and Pearls of Paris. Second place was won by the Paris United Methodist Church youth group. Third place went to a joint entry from Southside, Bethel and First Baptist Churches of Paris.

The parade’s theme was "Lift Your Merry Voices."

The parade culminated with the arrival in town of Santa Claus, who visited with children after the parade in the Santa Shack, located on the north side of the Logan County Courthouse. The Santa Shack is new this year and was constructed by Paris High School FFA students, under the direction of sponsor Jason Binz.

Santa will spend some time each day until Dec. 23 visiting with children. Santa will be at the Santa Shack from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There is no charge to visit or have your photograph taken with Santa.

The Grand Marshals for the parade were Bently and Carolyn Allen, winner of the Paris Area Chamber of Commerce’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

Prior to the lights being turned, entertainment was provided by Ashlin Forbis, Stephen Thomas and the Subi Singers, Megan Lowder, Shannon Briggs, Judge Parker’s Posse Barber Shoppe Quartet and Gloria Hardgrave.

Saturday night’s weather was perfect. Skies were partly cloudy and the temperature was in the low 40s.

Work on the Courthouse Square lighting display began in October and was done by employees of the city.