Pelham illuminates the season

Published 8:39 pm Monday, November 26, 2012

Pelham Youth Hockey Legue players entertain the crowd at the annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony at the Pelham Civic Complex on Nov. 26. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham kicked off the holiday season by lighting the city’s enormous Christmas tree in front of a capacity crowd at the Pelham Civic Complex on Nov. 26.

The event marked the 14th tree lighting held in the Civic Complex’s main ice arena, and was the first to be emceed by new Pelham Mayor Gary Waters, who took office in early November.

“I’m so glad you are all here in your facility,” Waters said of the Civic Complex. “The Pelham Beautification Board put in a lot of work to bring this to you. Putting this on is no easy task. It’s very difficult.”

The Pelham High School jazz ensemble entertained the hundreds of visitors as they entered the Civic Complex by playing a plethora of jazzed-up Christmas classics, and Hope World Outreach Ministry Pastor Earl Gardner offered the invocation.

Before opening the event with a prayer, Gardner encouraged those in attendance to remember Pelham’s public servants during the holiday season.

“I want us to make a covenant tonight to pray for the city of Pelham, the mayor and our City Council,” Gardner said.

Pelham Homeowners Association President Mildred Lanier sang the national anthem and led the crowd in singing “We Wish you a Merry Christmas.” The Pelham Fire Department colorguard and representatives from the Pelham-based Boy Scout Troop 404 presented the colors at center ice.

Choirs from Valley Elementary, Valley Intermediate, Riverchase Middle and Pelham High schools sang a variety of holiday songs, and the RMS band and PHS jazz ensemble filled the arena with Christmas favorites.

The crowd frequently erupted into cheers as members of the Pelham Youth Hockey League played an exhibition game, and members of the Pelham Skate School performed a show set to music from “The Lion King.”

Pelham First Baptist Church Pastor Mike Shaw delivered a message encouraging Pelham residents to remember those facing hard times this Christmas season.

“So many times, we take the things we enjoy at Christmas for granted,” Shaw said, encouraging those in attendance to support the American Red Cross as it helps Hurricane Sandy victims. “I hope you’ll take the time at Christmas to remember your blessings.”

At the end of the event, Santa Claus made his grand entrance on a Zamboni ice resurfacing machine, and greeted hundreds of kids who lined up along the edge of the ice rink.