For decades, Prescott residents have gathered at the steps of the County Courthouse early in December for a recounting of the Christmas story and for the lighting of the trees in the square. Heck, Ken Bennett has been reading the Christmas story for at least twenty-four of those years.
Saturday night was another such occasion. After an afternoon parade, thousands of people gathered downtown once again for the traditional carols and lighting ceremony.
The event was beautiful, as usual, but this night there was something different.
Standing at the edge of the front row was a woman dressed in a wedding dress, complete with a veil and flowers. She wore a short fur coat over her dress, but there was no mistaking her glowing smile - almost brighter than the lights surrounding the courthouse.
She stood next to a man in a dress jacket with a boutonnière pinned to the lapel.
After the last strands of, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” the couple stood on the courthouse steps, exchanged their vows, placed rings on one another’s left hand, and became Mr. and Mrs. Tom and Jenn Ashcraft.
It's the 61st Annual Courthouse Lighting. But as far as anyone knows, this is the first wedding to take place at the Courthouse Lighting event.
When asked why they chose to get married at this occasion, Jen replied, “It is very simple. I am a World Trade Center survivor. Fourteen years ago, I moved to this community and found healing. My husband lost his son in the Yarnell fire. This community helped him heal, too.” Jen’s smile was brilliant as she continued, "I decided a long time ago that if I ever found my soulmate, I would want to get married here, in this community, at the happiest time of the year, with the whole town watching.”
On Sunday evening, Jenn posted on Facebook, "For many years, I've always said:
"if I ever found my soulmate, I would marry him on the steps of our Prescott Courthouse Square in front of my amazing community and all the people who helped me heal from 9/11.
"I was granted special permission from the City and Chamber of Commerce to marry my Prince at our Courthouse Lighting Ceremony.
"What a blessing to marry my groom in front of the people that also helped heal him from the Yarnell Fire ♡
"We were so grateful for all the friends and town people who showed up for our vow exchange- Thank You, you made my dream come true! We love you all and now we will serve our community together ♡♡"