The Christmas season officially starts Friday, Dec. 1, in German Village.

The German Village Garten Club will flip the lights in Frank Fetch Park to illuminate a giant tree decorated with thousands of lights.

The gathering begins at 7 p.m. and the lights go on at 7:15 p.m. in the park on East Beck Street, between Fifth and Sixth streets.

Ashleigh Lemon, vice president of the garten club, said spectators would be welcomed by Santa Claus, carolers, a fire pit, cookies and hot drinks.

"It's a neat little event for families to bring their kids to and get in the holiday spirit," she said.

On Sunday, Dec. 3, about 10,000 people are expected to converge on the neighborhood from 5 to 9 p.m. for Village Lights.

Patrons will walk streets, lighted by candles, in search of good deals, beverages and snacks at participating stores.

Numerous vendors selling services and providing information -- and many offering treats -- will gather for Streizelmarkt on the platz of the German Village Meeting Haus, 588 S. Third St. Entertainment will be part of the mix, as well as a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus, said Greg Gamier, co-chairman of the German Village Business Community, which organizes the annual event.

Willow Street, between South Third and Lazelle streets, will be closed to accommodate the activity at the Meeting Haus, Gamier said.

Students from Stewart Alternative Elementary School will make the thousands of luminarias that will be placed along sidewalks and Schiller Park the evening of Village Lights.

Youngsters who want to send a letter to Santa Claus can do so at the caretaker's cottage in the Park.

Village Lights is another good opportunity to encourage the "shop local" vibe, Gamier said.

"That's what we're all about: shop, dine, stroll," he said. "That's what we do -- show off the village."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary