Pelham lights the Christmas season
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
In what likely was his final year of delivering Pelham’s Christmas message at the city’s tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 2, outgoing Pelham First Baptist Pastor Mike Shaw urged the city’s residents to keep their hearts open this holiday season.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive,” Shaw told the packed main arena at the Pelham Civic Complex. “I hope you will remember to give to those who are less fortunate this year.”
Shaw has been delivering the message during Pelham’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony for decades, but recently announced he will retire from the ministry in May 2014.
“I’ll not get a chance to address Pelham as a community as a whole again,” Shaw said. “To all the people of Pelham: Thank you, thank you , thank you for adopting our family so many years ago.”
Shaw’s message was one of the highlights of an action-packed night at the Civic Complex, which also included musical performances by the Pelham High School choir and jazz band and choirs from Riverchase Middle School, Valley Elementary and Valley Intermediate.
While the VES choir sang the national anthem, members of the Pelham Fire Department color guard and Cub Scout Pack 404 presented the colors.
Tiny members of the Pelham Youth Hockey League lit up the crowd with a high-energy hockey game at center ice and several groups from the Pelham Skate School drew thunderous applause as they shot across the ice.
After World War II veteran Dick Paxton and his wife, Gloria, lit the city’s more-than-30-foot Christmas tree, Santa Claus, who typically rides onto the ice on a Zamboni, instead skated onto the arena while greeting hundreds of thrilled children.
“If it was not for veterans, living and dead, we would not have the luxury of doing what we are doing here tonight,” Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said, noting Paxton lit the tree on behalf of all local military veterans.