Annual Tree Lighting Provides Holiday Joy

The holiday joy of a greeting from Santa Claus appeals to both children and adults especially when he arrives on the classic 1925 Fire Engine #1 in Gulfport.

Santa arrived on his 1925 Fire Engine Number 1 Gulfport sleigh on Monday, December 3 to hundreds gathered at Clymer Park.

At about 7:10 p.m., Mayor Sam Henderson and members of Gulfport City Council called for children from the crowd to help them light the city’s live tree for the season. Together, they overcame one technical glitch with the on switch and successfully illuminated the centerpiece for the gathering.

Children who attend educational classes at the city’s Recreation Center also performed choreographed songs while Henderson, his wife Laura and former Gulfport Mayor Yvonne Johnson led group sing-a-longs featuring “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Throughout the evening, members of the Gulfport Teen Council served refreshments.

On cue, elves from the Gulfport Fire Department brought Santa to town so he could take his place on a custom red-and-white throne where children took turns sharing their holiday wishes. Teen Council members handed out candy canes and small gifts as keepsakes for the experience.

“It’s such a great tradition,” said Vice Mayor Christine Brown. “We’ve been coming for 30 years. It brings everybody together from all walks of life.”

Children who attend educational classes at the Gulfport Recreation Center provided choreographed singing performances with the city’s illuminated Christmas tree as the backdrop for the stage in Clymer Park on Monday, December 3.

The magic of Santa is enhanced when a family tells him their holiday wishes as a group. Pictured from left are Logan Brethen, 7; Santa; Lilly Brethen, 5; Kimberly Marriott, the mom; and, Lexie Brethen, 2, who are all from Gulfport. The children attend the Tot Time Program at the Gulfport Recreation Center “so we come every year,” said Marriott. “This is the first year the whole family has visited Santa at the same time.”

Mayor Sam Henderson, left, and Vice Mayor Christine Brown, center, were assisted by children for the annual lighting of the city’s Christmas tree.


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