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Monday, June 24, 2024

City celebrates annual Christmas tree lighting

On Saturday night, Santa Claus spoke to a crowd of about 500 with a special message to kids about pride, courage and honor at the annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony sponsored by the city.

Shouts of, “I want to sit on Santa’s lap,” filled the rooms at the Thomas Center as eager kids lined up to see Santa.

“The event is a family affair for everyone to get ready for the holiday season,” said David Ballard, event coordinator for the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs for the city.

Ballard, dressed as Ebenezer Scrooge, walked around greeting everyone with a raspy voice.

City Commissioner Jeanna Mastrodicasa led a countdown before she pressed a button to light the tree.

Everyone clapped and celebrated. Shouts filled the room.

“This event grows every year, and it brings the community together,” Mastrodicasa said.

After the lighting, kids followed Santa to his red chair for pictures and whispered in his ear to tell him what gifts they wanted for the holidays.

“It’s the sparkle of joy in the kids’ eyes, why I grew my own beard and dress up as Santa Claus,” said Dennis Pollard, the man behind the beard.

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