There were Christmas carols and hot cocoa, Santa hats and sleigh bells, candy canes and a Christmas tree.
Hundreds of warmly dressed adults and children crowded onto Market Space in downtown Annapolis on Sunday evening to celebrate the start of the holiday season with the lighting of the city's Christmas tree.
The Annapolis Grand Illumination, hosted annually by the Annapolis Jaycees, entertained the crowds with a string of performances by local groups, including the Chesapeake Ballet Company, Chesapeake Harmony Choir and Talent Machine.
Near the celebration's end, Santa Claus and Mayor Mike Pantelides led the countdown that set aglow the white lights on the large evergreen tree in Alfred A. Hopkins Plaza, as the people in attendance cheered and a boat docked nearby blew its horn.
"I think it's lovely," Arnold resident Holly Powers said as she waited with her husband, Earl Powers, outside decorated storefronts for the tree to be lit.
It was the Powers' first time attending the city's tree lighting since moving to the area about eight years ago. Both said they liked the community-centric feel of the event.
"It's what makes Annapolis such a great place to live, things like this," Holly Powers said.
Across Market Place, closer to the Christmas tree, Annapolis resident Sandi Mercer stood and talked with friends, while her dog, Figaro, took in the scene, a red and gold Christmas bow and sleigh bells around his collar.
"He watched the ballet; he liked it very much," Mercer joked. "He fell asleep on some man's foot."
Mercer, who moved to Annapolis about a year and half ago from the D.C. area, said she loves the local aspect of the Annapolis Grand Illumination.
She used to trek to see the Christmas tree in D.C., but that was hectic, she said.
"This is so much nicer," she said. "It's so relaxed."
Lee Downing, of Annapolis, said the Grand Illumination event is part of what makes the city feel like "the biggest small town" she's been in.
Downing waited for the tree lighting with her husband, Ed Downing, and their two sons, 7-year-old Liam and 5-year-old Colin, who played with light-up swords near their parents while Christmas music floated from the speakers.
"It just gets you in the Christmas spirit," she said." And I have two little boys that I need to pass that stuff on to."
Alexus Viegas, vice president of membership for the Annapolis Jaycees, said the group estimated more than 600 people attended Sunday's tree lighting ceremony.
Ken Catucci and family, of Davidsonville, donated the tree, which was decorated and erected by Homestead Gardens, Viegas said.
Minutes before the tree lighting, Annapolis resident Brooke Bell stood close to the stage with her 5-year-old son, Broady Cash, and watched Talent Machine perform Christmas songs.
Bell said the family tries take part in numerous Christmastime events, like visiting the decorated governor's mansion and stopping by Lights on the Bay.
Sunday was Broady's first time at the Annapolis Grand Illumination. Bell said she remembers attending the tree lighting as a child, and this weekend, she got to experience it with her son.
"It's been a family tradition, and (this is) just continuing it on," Bell said.