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Thousands of people poured into the heart of downtown Frankfort on Thursday night as the commonwealth’s capital city celebrated it’s 36th annual Candlelight Tradition. The four-day festival kicked off with a host of activities too numerous to mention throughout the downtown area geared towards families and community.

The festival, named one of the Kentucky Travel Industry Association’s “Top Ten Fall 2012 Events & Festivals,” offers something for everyone. It is the unofficial start to Frankfort’s holiday season and a beloved tradition for the capital city community.  From carriage rides to hot chocolate, visits with Santa, a Polar Express train and movie, to a cocktail stroll, and a throw-back family friendly “tweedpunk” bike ride, this four-day celebration has become more about “community” than ever.

This year, the Capital City Museum opened an exciting new exhibit about historic Frankfort Fishing Reels. Frankfort has a very unique place in history as being the town where the bait casting fishing reel was perfected and first produced. Every place has its historic event or figure, but only we have this distinction. It was a Frankfort industry for over 100 years. Local craftsmen handmade these gems to fish the renowned streams of central Kentucky. Their reputation for quality and beauty was recognized around the world. The Capital City Museum opened an exhibition of a selection of these jewels to the public on Thursday with a ribbon cutting. The exhibit is comprised of reels from a variety of local makers, both from private collections and the Capital City Museum.

As usual, a variety of food was available, as well as music from several local high schools on the Old Capitol steps. The Christmas tree lighting is the highlight of many of the activities that Kickoff Night of The Candlelight Tradition is comprised of. Besides the free horse drawn carriage rides, and trolley rides around town, main event sponsor Commonwealth Credit Union, hosted the Polar Express Train, Santa, and a popcorn and candy bar. Hundreds of older music lovers were drawn to the Grand Theatre as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band took to the stage and the concert had been sold out for weeks.

And of course, there was LOTS of shopping! Local merchants seize this time of year to offer people a unique and friendly shopping experience. The advantages of shopping can be seen in the quality of service that every shop in downtown Frankfort has to offer.

The celebration continues through Sunday. For more information on each day, click on the licks below.

The Candlelight Tradition Family Friendly Fun Night

(Friday, November 11th)

The Candlelight Tradition Date Night

(Saturday, November 12th)

The Candlelight Tradition Pajamas and Tweed Day

(Sunday, November 13th)