It was an old-fashioned Christmas celebration in every sense.
The Salvation Army sold hot chocolate on Town Square, while Havre High School's Hi-Liners sang Christmas carols. There were bonfires to keep people warm, though Chamber of Commerce President Chandra Moomey said it was the warmest tree-lighting ceremony she could remember.
Kids got free tickets, handed out by Leadership High School's elves, for a chance to win a basket of Christmas gifts donated by Havre merchants.
"Jolly," a human Christmas ornament played by Jim Potter, told Christmas jokes that got more groans than laughs.
Then, Jolly announced what everyone was waiting for. "Here comes Santa Claus."
Cheers went up as Santa and Mrs. Santa walked through the crowd.
It was rough getting to Havre, Santa told the crowd. Montanans can't decide if it's winter or not. First there was no snow, then there was snow, then there was no snow, he said.
It wasn't easy getting through Homeland Security, he said. They wondered what was in those bags.
Then, Santa got to the business he came for. It was time to light the Christmas tree.
He pulled back the giant lever that was decorated for Christmas. Right on cue, the white lights on the tree lit up.
The crowd cheered.
The Christmas season was officially under way.