Christmas cheer packs Civic Complex

Published 9:24 pm Monday, November 28, 2011

Singers with Valley Intermediate School choir perform during the ceremony. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Hundreds of Pelham residents, students and performers packed the Pelham Civic Complex’s main ice arena Nov. 28 as the city lit its 25-foot Christmas tree to kick off the holiday season.

Despite chilly temperatures and steady rain, the main arena was nearly full as a slew of performers lit up the complex with Christmas-themed shows.

During the ceremony, Dr. Mike Shaw, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Pelham, urged those in attendance to remember others who are facing hard times this holiday season.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years now, and I’ve never delivered a message like I am tonight. There is something about the Christmas story that bothers me,” Shaw said. “A passage in the gospel of Luke says ‘She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.’

“That’s not the part that bothers me. It’s these 10 words: ‘Because there was no room for them in the inn,’” Shaw added. “I love Christmas, but the fact that the one whose birth we celebrate was born in a stable bothers me.”

Shaw encouraged Pelham residents to celebrate the “true meaning” of Christmas by helping those who have been through tragedy over the past year.

“I challenge you this year to do something for someone less fortunate than yourself. That is what Christmas is really about,” Shaw said. “If you will do that, you will have a merry Christmas and a blessed new year.”

During the tree lighting ceremony, Boy Scout Troop 404 and the Pelham Fire Department color guard presented the flags and led the Pledge of Allegiance, the Pelham Youth Hockey League Mighty Mites squared off in a hockey exhibition at center ice and members of the Pelham Skate School performed figure skating routines.

The Valley Elementary School second-grade choir sang “Santa is on his way,” the Valley Intermediate Valley Voices choir sang “Be a Santa,” the Riverchase Middle School choir sang “The 12 groovy days of Christmas” and the Pelham High School chamber choir sang “Here we come a caroling.”

The RMS band played “Bell carol rock” and the PHS jazz ensemble performed a plethora of holiday tunes throughout the event.

“There is a lot of love in this room. Love for our kids, love for one another and love for our community,” Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said. “We need to keep in our hearts that there are a lot of men and women out there protecting our freedoms.”