Lake Havasu City ushered in the holiday season with a flourish Friday evening, with hundreds of spectators in attendance for the city’s 24th Annual Festival of Lights.

The event began at 6 p.m. with the city’s traditional Swim Race Across the Channel, in which dozens of competitors raced more than 200 meters through water as cold as 29-degrees, for the right to officially begin this year’s festival with the pull of a ceremonial lever.

The annual Havasu tradition saw a new master of ceremonies this year, with longtime Havasu resident and business owner Dustin Runyon leading the event.

“It feels awesome,” Runyon said Friday evening. “With five hundred thousand lights, it’s pretty incredible. The event is about community and the spirit of the holidays … it’s what lights Havasu up.”

The 24th Annual Festival of Lights will continue every evening, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. until Jan. 5 in the English Village.

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