Clanton tree lighting highlights talent, Santa

Published 1:39 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Part Christmas celebration, part talent showcase — the Clanton Christmas Tree lighting has been an annual tradition for several years.

This year’s celebration on Dec. 4 featured the talents of First United Methodist Children’s Choir, Central Dance and Cheer, Impact Martial Arts, Alabama Baton and Dance, Just Twirl It Baton, New Life Community Church Children’s Church and Signature Studio of Dance.

Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand to help light the tree. Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver and the City Council greeted the crowd.

Many of the attendees were looking forward to the children in their lives performing on stage.

Brenda Headley has attended the event for the past three years. Her favorite part is the entertainment.

“I have two grandkids (Olivia and Carson Shaw) that are in the Methodist Children’s Choir,” Headley said.

Seeing a grandchild perform was the reason she first attended the celebration three years ago.

“This is a great idea that the city is doing and it’s a beautiful night — not too cold, it’s not raining,” Headley said.

Ralph Parker, who comes to the event every year, said he also had grandchildren performing.

Rachel Parker said she enjoys “watching my granddaughter and the lighting of the tree.”

It was Hannah Little’s first year at the festivities. Little said her daughter Allianna attends the First Baptist preschool across the street from the corner where the tree is displayed.

“Apparently, they’ve had snack over here, so she thinks it is hers,” Little said with a laugh.

Allianna was excited to see the tree lit up. Little said her daughter’s excitement was a highlight of the event.

“This is my first year,” Pamela Benjamin said. “I’m excited to see the little, small town come together and to see my baby perform. I’m looking forward to it.”

Her daughter was in Just Twirl It.

Benjamin said she grew up in Clanton and now lives in Verbena, so the event is a good opportunity to see people that she used to go to school with.

Each of the groups had practiced songs or routines to be ready for the big night.

Ashely Beth Jones of Alabama Baton and Dance at Cornerstone Fitness said she was “excited to show everyone what we have learned this year.”

Her portion of routine showcased twirling three batons

“I have been in baton since I was 5 years old and I love twirling and I love performing,” Caitlyn Jones said.

Caitlyn Jones said she has also enjoyed helping the younger girls in the group.

Cally Wright and Ella Fondren of Central Cheer and Dance said the group practiced a lot to be ready for the performance. Wright’s favorite routine they did was to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

Fondren said she had performed at the tree lighting in previous years. She said she was looking forward to dancing on stage.

“It’s fun and you are dancing it to express your feelings,” Fondren said.

Sally Pitts served as emcee.

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