Anyone driving past the Anderson County Courthouse on Monday might have noticed a bit of organized commotion around a particularly festive tree in the center of the square.
Wooden reindeer and toy soldiers watched as Palestine Fire Department's Tower One ladder truck stretched high in the sky so workers could drape lights around the live Christmas tree below, which was brought in from Dennison that morning.
A team of volunteers worked around them, collaborating efforts to make Anderson County's historic courthouse square one of the merriest focal points in the city. Volunteers put up wooden cutouts of snowmen and other creatures, strung white lights around the tree, wrapped lampposts in poinsettia-red ribbon, hitched up Santa's reindeer with sparkly gold ropes, and more.
City Manager Wendy Ellis said it's all part of a community-wide effort to adorn and celebrate historic Palestine during the holidays, as well as to commemorate its heritage.
“It's an important time in the community,” Ellis said — noting the boost in visitors that venture through town this time of year — “but it's also important for us as members of the community to just take time and celebrate the season and enjoy the fellowship and the camaraderie that comes with it.
“And we really want to showcase the courthouse square because it's such a great asset for the citizens of Anderson County, and we're really proud that we've been able to maintain it,” Ellis said.
Main Street Manager Laura Westgate called the courthouse “a crown jewel.”
“There's only four like it in the whole state,” she said, referring to its historical facade.
She said efforts to embellish Palestine's historic district have been in the works since last Christmas, which marked the city's first year to highlight the square in a decorative manner.