"SIX, FIVE, four . . . .," they shouted outside the entrance to City Hall. Their anticipation welled in November's frosty air. "Three, two . . . "Then, SWITCH-ON. Sligo's Christmas lights were aglow. And so were the innocent eyes of the onlooking children, and the adults too.
Whatever about recession and austerity, the Christmas spirit was shining through. And everyone had a smile. Among carols sung by Sligo Youth Community Choir was "Joy to the World."
Stacey Rooney's smiling 11-year old daughter, Caitlyn, was one of the singers. "It's so exciting," she beamed. Caitlin Titus, from Coolaney, also in the choir, thought it was all "really good."
Gerry Doherty oozed delight in bringing his three-year old twin grandsons, Keegan and Logan, well as granddaughter, Ethan, to the switch-on.
Even First Citizen, Mayor David Cawley, admitted to childlike delight.
With him were his two children, Ruth, 14, and Darragh, 11.
"I enjoy this," he said. "I love Christmas. It's all about creating a good atmosphere and a happy environment, about boosting the spirits."
He also sounded a note of warning; it might be the last time the borough council will be involved in such a beautiful ceremony if the local authority were to be abolished.
Meanwhile, Chamber President, Linda Moffitt, admired the Christmas tree outside City Hall.
She pointed out that there are 25% more Christmas lights in the town this year.
"A huge amount of work has gone into repairing and hanging them.
"It's all a great collaborative effort between the borough council and the Chamber, supported by Leader," she said.
She also paid tribute to the special committee set up to organise Sligo's Christmas fair on December 8th and 9th in the Stephen Street Car Park.
Meanwhile, the party atmosphere was boosted when the Sligo Concert Band struck up.
There followed a storytelling session by Town Crier Brian Devaney and Lianne Shanley, representing the Tourist Development Association and the "Branching Out" group.
Inside City Hall, there was tea, hot chocolate and other refreshments, all at the open invitation of the Mayor.
But even without such hospitality, it was such a heart-warming event, a bright spot amid all the doom and gloom.
"Joy to the World" . . . in practice.