Pelham tree lighting not to be missed

Published 10:33 am Thursday, November 18, 2010

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

As a former member of the Pelham High School jazz band, there was one event I looked forward to every year. It was one of the only events during which we were allowed to wear a fuzzy red and white hat along with our swanky black and white tuxedos.

When I moved back to Shelby County in 2009 after attending college and working at a newspaper outside the state for several years, the same event immediately popped into my mind.

Ask anyone outside Pelham about seeing Santa make his grand entrance on a Zamboni, and you would likely draw some puzzled looks. But anyone who has ever been to the city’s annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony would know exactly what you were talking about.

Every year, the city transforms the main ice arena at the Pelham Civic Complex into a giant exhibition hall for one of the most enormous Christmas trees in Central Alabama.

If you’ve never been to the ceremony – or even if you have – be sure to clear your calendar for the night of Nov. 29.

The event, which begins at 6:30 p.m., includes an exhibition game by the Pelham Youth Hockey League, the First Baptist Church of Pelham bell choir and everything in between.

Choirs from every school in Pelham, the Riverchase Middle School concert band and the PHS jazz band crank up the holiday spirit with a plethora of familiar Christmas tunes before Pelham Mayor Don Murphy cuts the lights and illuminates the massive tree.

While the crowd is still applauding the brightly lit tree, Saint Nick himself enters the ice arena piloting a light-covered Zamboni.

After the fanfare is over, Santa takes time to greet children in the Civic Complex banquet hall before returning to the North Pole to prepare for the big day.

It is definitely one of my favorite events of the year, and the free admission price can’t be beat.