Clanton celebrates Christmas tree lighting

Published 12:18 pm Friday, December 2, 2016

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

CLANTON — Christmas has come to Clanton with the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree at the corner park downtown.

Santa lit the tree with a jolly “ho, ho, ho” joined by ceremony emcee Sally Pitts. Santa also milled through the crowd before the event pausing for photographs with the children in attendance.

Mayor Billy Joe Driver welcomed everyone to the event.

“It is such a beautiful night and we hope you enjoy this a beautiful program,” Driver said.

After the tree was lit, Just Twirl It kicked off the performances as members showcased their baton twirling talents.

Next, West End Baptist Church’s children’s choir took the stage.

Several of the dancers had participated in the tree lighting ceremony in year’s past

“I like performing. It’s fun,” Mary Grace said.

Taylor Driver of Clanton said she enjoyed seeing the Christmas Tree lit up.

“I like dancing and I like the lighting of the tree,” Anna Katherine of Clanton said.

She said she has a participated in the event each year since she was three years old. Her favorite year was when they performed to Silent Night.

Calissa Pledger and Chloe Street said they enjoyed the opportunity to perform for the community.

Pledger said there was a lot of practice that went into the performance.

Halls of Ivy dance group also performed.

The holiday tradition held memories for many of the adults in attendance.

Judy Allwander said in years past, she had watched her daughter perform in the event.

This year, she attended to see her grandson sing with the West End Children’s choir.

“It really looks like the kids have so much fun and it really gives them a chance to perform for the community,” Allwander said.

Julie Bentley of Thorsby said it had been a long time since she had attended the event.

“When I was in high school I competed in pageants and stuff and came,” Bentley said.

This year, Bentley was able to enjoy the festivities with her own children.

“It’s fun. It’s come full circle because something I was able to do as a child and a teen and I’m getting to do with my kids now,” Bentley said.

Throughout the event, attendees warmed up with free hot chocolate and hotdogs from West End Baptist Church.

West End Student Pastor Kenny Martin said this was the second year the church had provided refreshments for the event.

The idea started last year when the annual Halloween festivities were rained out and West End could not give out hot dogs as planned. The church opted for the Christmas tree lighting instead

“We had a really big response from the community,” Martin said.

He said being involved in these kinds of activities is a way for the church to show hope to the community.

He said he enjoys seeing the children’s excitement.

“With all that is negative in the world, just to see them excited about something, that’s what this is about,” Martin said.