Tree lighting event next week

Published 11:59 pm Friday, November 27, 2009

The sounds of Christmas carols and smell of hot chocolate will fill the Court Square next Thursday at the city’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

The “Starring Christmas” ceremony, which is part of the “Music Around Town” series of public events, will feature several local acts performing holiday favorites as a lead-in to the “official” lighting of the Christmas tree.

“The city has turned the tree’s lights on already, because people like coming in for Thanksgiving and seeing everything all decorated and lit up,” said Barbara Nichols, ceremony chairperson. “But we’re still doing the official ceremony this year as well, because it’s more about just lighting the tree for the first time. It’s become an annual tradition and it’s something people look forward to really support.”

The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. and is expected to continue until about 7:30 p.m. Nichols said spectators are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets because “it’s possible it might be a little chilly.”

If it is cold outside, citizens will also be able to warm up by enjoying hot chocolate. Children can visit with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and his elves, and everyone in attendance will also have the chance to be a part of the ceremony.

Nichols said each person who attends will be given a candle, which will be lit during the tree-lighting portion of the ceremony. After the tree is lit, everyone will blow out the candles, leaving only the tree to shine like a beacon.

“It should be a beautiful thing to see,” she said.

Prior to the tree-lighting, there will be live entertainment from a variety of church groups and individual musicians. The audience will be asked to sing along on some of the Christmas carols, including “O Christmas Tree” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Nichols said the performers’ list is not yet finalized, but those who have confirmed they will participate are: The Irene Hines Bell Choir from First Baptist Church of Andalusia; One Accord, a women’s ensemble from First Baptist Church of Andalusia; Ethel Robertson; Justin Schuver; and Paula Sue Duebelt, who will be the emcee.

“In the past, we’ve done caroling on the city corners, but this year we’re going to bring all the music to the stage,” Nichols said. “Following the music, the mayor will call for the tree to be lit, and then everyone will sing one final Christmas carol. It should be a wonderful, traditional night.”