Reading officially lights Christmas tree on Penn Square

READING, Pa. - Some in downtown Reading say they were having a little trouble getting into the holiday spirit, but then, one man experienced a little Christmas kindness.

"Just earlier today, I dropped my phone and some lady was like, 'Hey! Hey you!' She didn't even know me. She gave me my phone right back. I was like, 'Wow'," said Sharif Lopes, standing in front of Reading's official Christmas tree on Penn Square.

Lori Tarrad of Reading was having trouble churning up some Christmas cheer, too.

"Well, it moped in this year. I guess 'cuz we're getting older, you kinda settle in. It's just another day," she shared.

But then, she saw that tree.

"It get's you in the spirit, gets you out shopping, baking cookies and everything," Tarrad said.

The tree, along with the events surrounding it, are bigger and better this year.

Charles Broad, the Reading Downtown Improvement District's executive director, said this years event is the longest and biggest yet.

"I can tell you the tree last year was 30 feet. This one is 34 feet. There is another layer of the tree that they added this year," Broad explained.

The festivities at the official tree lighting include live music, Santa inside the old bank building at Fifth and Penn, and Christmas trees available for purchase.

"We have trees for sale for the first time. We'll have a little market to sell Christmas trees," Broad said.

Mayleshia Harris and her kids are excited for the season.

"Yeah, I'm in the Christmas spirit. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and it's all about my kids, keeping a smile on their face," she explained.

Her 5-year-old son, Malachi, couldn't quite put a finger on what he liked best about Christmas, so he decided to cover his bases.

"Everything," he shared, as the 34-foot tree, decked out in ornaments and lights, hovered behind him.

Regardless of moods, many on Penn Street seem to be turning a yuletide corner, as we're officially into December and Christmas is mere weeks away.

Sharif Lopes harkens back to when he was a kid, coming to see the tree lit up, and it's that yearly commitment that brought him back Friday night.

"I have to. I have to support the cause," he said. "The tree, I've been seeing it all my life."

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