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Photo: Jason Farmer, License: N/A, Created: 2012:11:21 19:37:43

The 52nd annual lighting of the Times Tower. TIMES-TRIBUNE STAFF PHOTO

At 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27, as the crowd gathers in the blocks around 149 Penn Ave., there’s sure to be a sense of excitement in the air. With the flip of a switch some 500 cold cathode bulbs in blue, red, green and yellow will turn on, marking the “official” start to 2013 holiday season and the 53rd annual Times Tower lighting in downtown Scranton.

“We pleased that this event has so quickly become such a wonderful holiday tradition in downtown Scranton,” said Regional Director of Marketing and Events for Times-Shamrock Communications Timothy L. Holmes.

What began four years ago as a way to mark the 50th anniversary of the annual tradition has continued to grow with folks making the trek to Spruce Street and Penn Avenue to enjoy the vendors, family-friendly activites and live entertainment by Exact Change, leading up to fireworks that immediately follow the lighting.

“Four years ago, as we approached the 50th annual tower lighting we felt we needed create a special event to mark the occasion,” Holmes said. “The response to the free community celebration was huge success and we immediately knew we needed to continue this new tradition.”

Holmes estimates thousands of people attended the event last year and anticipates the crowd will be the same, if not larger, this year.

“Each year, folks have a blast with this event and I’m sure they’re quick to run home to tell their family, friends and neighbors,” Holmes added. “I get the sense that out-of-town family members are also coming home for Thanksgiving a day earlier so they can kick off the holiday season at this great event.”

From 4:30-7 p.m., a truly festive atmosphere will include holiday music, Santa’s Printing Press, a special holiday display inside the Times Building, and holiday movies will be presented inside the building’s fifth-floor theater.

“I don’t think we ever quite realized how aware folks were of the tower lighting each year the night before Thanksgiving,” Holmes said. “Gathering everyone to mark the occasion created a visible sign of just how strong the interest had been. Adding the fireworks, however, took it to a whole new level.”