With a massive countdown of “three, two, one,” Bianna Carson illuminated a Christmas tree outside Copperas Cove library as hundreds of people welcomed the holiday season last week.
Chants demanding Santa’s entrance soon followed.
“This is a great thing for the community,” Mayor John Hull said. “You can tell that by the amount of people here.”
An estimated 500 people, mostly families, attended the tree lighting on Nov. 29 and stayed for photos and the S.C. Lee Junior High School choir’s performance.
“I like ‘O Holy Night’ because it’s so peaceful and calm,” said Rileigh Hudson, 6, who enjoyed the Christmas carols with her mother, Amber.
Hudson said she learned about the event from a flier Rileigh brought home from school.
“This is a really good thing for families to do together,” she said. “I’d never been, and it’s pretty neat for the town to do.”
Lines of people waiting for free hot chocolate, s’mores or the chance to visit with Santa Claus criss-crossed the lot filled with Christmas decorations.
Danniell Freeman brought her 3-year-old son along to support her daughter, who was singing in the choir, but Lontray Jr. was more interested in making sure Santa heard his requests for a trampoline and a monster truck, even after a 45-minute wait.
“It’s awesome for the little ones to see Santa,” said Freeman, who has been in Copperas Cove for about a year and will spend Christmas without her husband who recently deployed. “I think it’s great. ... You get to get a taste of Christmas.”
Along with the 15-foot tall Christmas tree, 25 lit decorations were displayed.
The Copperas Cove Parks and Recreation Department tries to make a new addition to the tree lighting event each year, said Andy Cedillo, director of the department.
This year, a new snow machine made its debut and was well received according to feedback from residents, Cedillo said.
“We learned a couple of things this year. One, is that they liked the snow, so we may add more,” he said. “Also, they want us to give a variety of entertainment, so we’re looking at adding.”
Preliminary ideas of additional entertainment include adding a church choir or an individual singer.
The decorations will be on display through Jan. 1 for residents to view and photograph at the corner of Robertson Drive and South Second Street, near the library and City Hall.