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Hundreds kick off the holidays with the 'Vista Lights' Celebration

After a modified celebration due to the pandemic last year, the event returned in its fullness Thursday with performances, food and even Santa.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — For more than 35 years, the 'Vista Lights' celebration has signaled the start of the holiday season in Columbia.

After a modified celebration due to the pandemic last year, the event returned in its fullness Thursday with performances, food and even Santa.

Avery Strother, 9, and family were among the crowd of hundreds there to see the Vista Christmas tree light up the night sky.

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"It has like the magical music and everything," Strother said.

Philippe Herndon and family watched performers sing holiday favorites with joy.

"Just to be out and about and among people again is pretty great," Herndon said.

It wasn't just an opportunity for locals to enjoy, but also businesses.

According to organizers, more than 60 galleries, shops ad restaurants opened to showcase their offerings - The Donut Guy business among them.

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It's food truck sat in front of the new store front location, owners say will open in the months ahead.

"We've been so well received," Crystal Paulk, co-owner said. "So many people are so excited about the new location and they've just been so welcoming and so that alone has been really exciting."

Although the weather may not show it, with the flick of a light, the holidays in Columbia began.