Lighting up the Season


School Year Child Care Program children provided singing entertainment to a crowd of about 250 people at Gulfport’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting event Monday, December 5 from 7 to 8 p.m. at Clymer Park, Gulfport Blvd. S. and Beach Blvd. S. Members of the group were dressed in reindeer ears or Santa hats and festive holiday outfits. They sang “Where Are You Christmas?” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”



Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson, center, is assisted by his wife, Laura, left, and former Gulfport Mayor Yvonne Johnson on Monday, December 5 at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting event. The trio led a sing-along of “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Here Comes Santa Claus” with the audience of about 250 people with the city’s official holiday tree in the background. Children in attendance helped Henderson turn on the lights. As the crowd was finishing the Santa Claus song, fire engine sirens and bells added to the music as the city’s fire department delivered Santa to the stage area behind the trio. He had a new chair this year crafted by Brian VanSlyke of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. The old one needed to be replaced because of termite damage, he said. “The new one is made of pressure-treated plywood because the termites don’t like it.” The new Santa-sized chair is white with a red velvet seat and arm pads. It weighs about 100 pounds and is about 30 inches wide by about six feet high.



Phoebe Lamb, 4, was the first to tell Santa a Christmas wish at the annual Gulfport Tree Lighting event. It’s her second year attending the event, said her mother Danielle Lamb of Gulfport. Santa’s helper is Mike Furman who volunteers his time to assist the North Pole Santa during this busy time of the year. Each visitor received a candy cane.



Donning Santa hats in the front row on stage, Kassidy Latragna, left, and Jeremy Hunt share a laugh after singing for the crowd. The two were part of the School Year Child Care Program group.



From left, Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson, Gulfport Vice Mayor Michael Fridovich, Gulfport Councilmember Christine Brown, former Mayor Mike Yakes, Gulfport Councilmembers Yolanda Roman and Dan Liedtke welcome about 250 attendees to the event and prepare to assist over a dozen children, who eagerly volunteered from the audience, to help Henderson light the tree.

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