Annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony showcases Pelham residents

Published 11:12 am Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pelham High School’s jazz ensemble performs at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony Nov. 30. (Reporter photo / Jessa Pease)

Pelham High School’s jazz ensemble performs at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony Nov. 30. (Reporter photo / Jessa Pease)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— As guests filed into the Pelham Civic Complex Nov. 30, the smiling faces of PHS’s chamber choir members, clad in Santa Claus-themed cloaks, welcomed them.

Members of the Pelham Beautification Board handed out 1,000 official Pelham Christmas tree ornaments, holiday decorations were displayed throughout the complex and families were bursting with anticipation for the events that would follow.

The Christmas tree lighting ceremony has been a part of Pelham’s tradition for about 25 years, although Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said they aren’t sure exactly how long it’s been a tradition.

It started out at Pelham City Hall and moved to the Civic Complex 17 years ago because the event drew such large crowds.

“It just kicks off the holiday season,” said event coordinator Paula Holly. “We look forward to it every year.”

Pelham High School’s band and jazz ensemble played Christmas tunes before the event started, and the fifth-grade choir at Valley Intermediate School kicked off the entertainment portion of the program with a rendition of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

The boys of the Pelham Youth Hockey League Mites took the ice and entertained by scoring goals and skating around with Santa Claus. Members of the ice arena’s skate school, who will be featured in an upcoming performance called “Christmas at the Movies,” soon followed them onto the ice.

The hundreds of guests also saw performances by Riverchase Middle School’s choir, Pelham High School’s band and jazz ensemble and PHS’s show and chamber choirs.

New this year was a sneak peak at the Stevan Grebel Dance Studio’s upcoming performance of “The Nutcracker.” Cast members rushed out into the walkways and began dazzling the crowd with pirouettes and attitudes.

“I thought it was great,” Holly said. “I loved the Grebel Dance to the program. I think it turned out really well.”

At the conclusion f the program, Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer, multiple officers and founders of The Wings of Hope Foundation prepared to light the tree.

For the past month, the Pelham Police Department has participated in No Shave November to benefit The Wings of Hope. Palmer asked the large crowd for help in raising money for the pediatric foundation, resulting in an additional $3,200 in donations.

Once the tree was lit, families entered the reception area for hot chocolate, cookies, warm apple cider and more. Santa Claus was also available for photos.

“(The people) were very complimentary of the skate school and the choirs,” Holly said. “I heard that the cider that the high school was fantastic. Santa was taking children until 9 p.m. I thought it was great.”