CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- The "Grand Illumination" made downtown Chattanooga a little brighter Friday night.

The annual tradition draws thousands to the riverfront and it was finally cold enough to enjoy cups of hot chocolate and apple cider.

Some die-hard boaters braved the elements to create a Christmas flotilla.

For folks we talked to, the "Grand Illumination" isn't about the lights and the festival food.

"Downtown Chattanooga has really grown and to see something like this, it's really great," says Sharalynne Myree.

The free event was hosted by our own Greg Glover and Cindy Sexton.

Of course Santa finally arrived, with song, before the fireworks finale from Renaissance Park.

Buildings in downtown and on the Northshore will be lit from now until February.