HASTINGS, Neb. – Four blocks of vendors, horse drawn carriage rides, and of course, lights brings the Hastings community together for the annual celebration of lights festival.

Put together each year by the Downtown Center Association, Director Tammy Orthmann says the event is a great way to kick start the holiday season.

"It's a very kind of sentimental event for us," said Orthmann. "We want to put our best Christmas foot forward as far as the stores and such. But we also want to have fun and know it's not going to be an evening where people make a lot of money, but you get to see people and talk to people."

In just a span of hours, the downtown streets transform from almost empty, to overflowing.

While businesses remain open late, the street vendors are almost all non-profit, giving away items at little or no cost. 

"We try to make it as easy as possible for a family to come down and not have to spend a lot of money to have a lot of fun in a couple hours." said Orthmann.

For other for-profit vendors, some traveled to Hastings, like Prairie Island Poppers, who made their Celebration of Lights debut. 

This is our first year here at this lighting," said Prairie Island Poppers owner Angie Klute. "I completely underestimated how many people would be here, so it's been a very good night." 

The night is capped off by lights across businesses ignited in the dark. They'll shine on downtown Hastings each night for the rest of the year.