MANCHESTER – Town Hall got a whole lot brighter as public officials, residents, Cub Scouts, students and jolly Saint Nick all came together to kick off the holiday season.
The Township’s annual Christmas Tree lighting ceremony was held on a slightly chilly Friday evening and it had a large turnout with greeters Maya Kurpiewski and Cadence Noeding of Manchester High School handing out programs for the night’s festivities. They were dressed in matching Santa style outfits. The program book not only featured the night’s itinerary but also some history about the Christmas tree, song lyrics, the history of Hannukkah and information about the township’s holiday home decorating contest.
The Christmas tree featured 3,400 bulbs strung on it before its illumination. Mayor Robert Hudak got the full briefing on how to operate the remote from Don Thomas, the general foreman for buildings and grounds who put up the lights on the tree. “It will work almost out to the parking lot,” he told the mayor. “We even have a backup plan if for some reason it doesn’t light.
“I was the general manager for Lowes in the township. I was with Lowes for 15 years and Home Depot before that and I recently retired. I took this on and I love it. Normally they have had a fake tree so this is the first year for this tree. It took me three days to put up the lights for that tree,” Thomas noted.
Thomas said, “we got the lights from Lowes. They actually donated about eight strings of lights which was nice of them to do.”
Township Recreation Director Tracey Lynch shared more history about this year’s tree. “About 10 years ago, I think it was the day before the tree lighting, we had a huge tree and unfortunately the whole back side of it after the summer season had died. So unfortunately, that tree had to be taken down. We were donated a very small bush. That tree needed some time to mature and tonight that tree is going to make its debut for tonight’s tree lighting.
“Our building and grounds crew worked diligently to have this tree look amazing. They put all those lights up with a pole and a hook. They worked very hard to make this front area look amazing. I think they did a phenomenal job,” Lynch said. She also thanked everyone involved with the night’s program including her staff, the performers, fire companies present and the high school volunteers.
Reverend David Rittenger from the Whiting Bible Church provided the invocation and Mayor Hudak followed with some welcoming remarks to the crowd.
Rittenger noted that the menorah setup on display would be lit later in the month for the Jewish holiday of Hannukah. He wished everyone a joyous holiday season.
Mayor Hudak remarked, “thank you all for being here tonight.” He thanked Council President Joan Brush and Councilman James Vaccaro for being there “and all our public works staff and our grounds staff for Tracey and the Rec Department for bringing this all together for all our performers, our fire, police and EMTs who are here tonight. I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season. Happy whatever you celebrate and a happy new year as well.”
Lynch introduced the members of Cub Scout Pack 44 who sang “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and the Manchester School Chorus, led by Sarah Drew, performed “Up on the Housetop.”
She also introduced Marisiya Goins who has performed at public gatherings in the township before. She sang “All I Want for Christmas” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
Following a countdown, the tree was lit brightly and the high school chorus returned to summon up Santa Claus with a rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” He arrived via a township fire truck.
The fun wasn’t over yet however as Santa made his way to the downstairs community center which was well decorated for the occasion and featured volunteers providing hot chocolate and freshly popped popcorn as Kris Kringle took to his chair beside a Christmas tree to greet children and hear their wish list for the season.