Durham, N.C. — In downtown Durham, the American Tobacco Historic District rang in the holiday season with the 11th annual lighting of the Lucky Strike Tower.
Kids and parents alike were excited in the hours leading up to the lighting with some families arriving at the American Tobacco Campus as early as 3 p.m.
"It's a good time to get together. It's a time to celebrate, and we need that in midst of what's going on," Joy Watts said. "It's good for the soul."
The festivities include musical entertainment from the touring cast of the Sound of Music. Area school choirs also performed a selection of popular Christmas songs.
Along with the entertainment Friday night, non-profit groups competed in the Christmas Tree Challenge which raises funds used to advance their respective causes.
"This is the first holiday thing we've don this season and it really puts us in the spirit," Jenny Barnes said.
Santa and Wool E. Bull joined WRAL News anchor Gerald Owens to light the tower at 7 p.m.
Diamond View Park outside the Durham Performing Arts Center was also lined with decorated Christmas trees from competitors in the 6th annual Triangle Christmas Tree Challenge.
Each tree represents an area non-profit organization. Visitors can vote for their favorite via text message and winning trees in different categories will walk away with donations of $1,000 to $5,000.