Santa and helpers prepare for the tree lighting Friday, November 27, 2020 near Petersburg’s municipal building. (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

Petersburg kicked off the holiday season Friday with the annual tree lighting in two showings for COVID-19 social distancing. Viewers were treated to a show with Christmas and children’s characters onstage by the municipal building.

Petersburg Chamber of Commerce director Mindy Lopez introduced this year’s honorary tree lighter, 99-year-old Art Hammer.

“In 2021, the Christmas tree lighter and the two-family corporation will be celebrating a hundred years. Please put your hands together and join me in congratulating the 2020 Christmas tree lighter Art Hammer,” Lopez said. “Hello Art, congratulations. He will be a hundred years old in July, that’s amazing.”

Participants counted down and cheered the lighting of the tree.

Hammer served in the U.S. Army from 1942-46. He worked for 41 years in retail management for the local company Hammer and Wikan, which has hardware, grocery and convenience stores in Petersburg.