Traditions worth treasuring

Published 5:01 pm Monday, December 6, 2010

Mike Shaw, pastor of First Baptist Church of Pelham, delivers a message during the city’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

A huge crowd braved the rain Nov. 29 to attend Pelham’s City Christmas Tree Lighting. Warm and dry inside the Pelham Civic Complex, performances by all of Pelham’s school choirs and bands delighted the audience with Christmas music.

Short exhibitions by the tiniest Pelham Youth Hockey players imaginable, adorable youth ice skating groups and impressive competition skaters also contributed to the night’s entertainment.

After the performances, Pelham Police Captain Larry Palmer said, “Some of us were trying to remember how many years the tree lighting has been going on.”

After a bit of figuring, we came up with 20 years. Could it really be 20 years that we’ve been attending Pelham Christmas Tree Lightings?

I spoke with retired Pelham Mayor Bobby Hayes who said, “Joanne Carroll was on our original Pelham Beautification Board and she really wanted the city to recognize the holiday. Other cities were having parades. I knew too much about the legalities of a parade from my time in law enforcement to be in favor of closing the highway for a parade.”

Carroll and retired Pelham City Clerk Donna Treslar came up with the idea for a tree lighting ceremony.

“The tree lighting was a great idea,” Hayes said. “Those two ladies did a great job of getting everyone involved and pulling the celebration together.”

Pelham’s tree lighting has expanded over the years. Pelham’s senior citizens’ group, the Pelham Pioneers, serve refreshments and Pelham High School Ambassadors assist with seating and refreshments also.

Some traditions of the tree lighting never change. “The tree lighting is one of the biggest events for the Pelham Beautification Board,” current Pelham Beautification Board member, Mosely E. Johnson said. “We look forward to distributing Christmas ornaments to all who attend.”

“The Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony brings our city together as we welcome the holiday season and begin the celebration of Christ’s birth,” Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said. “Dr. Shaw’s message reminds of us of the true meaning of Christmas.”

Brother Shaw’s wife, Mary, reminisced about those first tree lightings at city hall. The Shaws have been a constant presence at Pelham’s tree lightings. Brother Shaw’s message always recognizes how much we have to be grateful for in our city.

Having a sense of community creates Christmas memories we’ll all treasure. From our big celebration to our smallest decorations, Pelham’s Christmas traditions are all worth cherishing.

Community columnist Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at