The sunset over Harker Heights on Wednesday evening set the stage for the annual lighting of the city’s Christmas tree, held for the first time at Harker Heights City Hall on Miller’s Crossing.
For the past three years, the lighting ceremony had been held at Market Heights Shopping Center.
About 100 people of all ages gathered at the site on the south side of the building, enjoying each other’s company, drinking coffee, hot chocolate and eating cookies, and listening to the 30-member Harker Heights High School Varsity Symphony Orchestra, directed by Joshua Craft, as they waited for the official lighting of the tree assembled last week with the assistance of Parks and Recreation and the Chamber of Commerce staff.
The staff of the Heights Chamber and the City of Harker Heights sponsored the event, and the chamber provided the refreshments. The tree that stands almost 30 feet high is a donation from Union State Bank.
Chamber President and CEO Gina Pence, in addition to welcoming the crowd, shared special praise for Union State Bank.
“Let’s give the bank representatives who are here an extra round of applause,” Pence said.
At sundown, the countdown began, and with the flip of a switch, the tree burst into colors of yellow, red, green and white.
Mayor Rob Robinson said, “This tree lighting is an expression of what Harker Heights is really all about. We are friends. We are family and a good place to live. I appreciate all of you who joined us tonight.”
Greg Schannep, a recently retired minister of a local church, just returned Wednesday from a trip to Hawaii in order to watch his grandson play in the HHHS Symphony.
Schannep served for 28 years as a chaplain in the U.S. Army and told the Herald that the lighting of the tree brought back memories of the past and tree lighting ceremonies he’s participated in.
“I’m looking forward to Christmas,” he said.
Several other participants included the Harker Heights City Council, fire chief, representatives of the Heights Police Department and several civic organizations plus city workers and City Hall representatives.
Heights resident Seli Medina told the Herald that she’s lived here 15 years and was thrilled to see the tree lighting at City Hall.
The memory that came to her mind when the lights came on took her back to the age of 5 and remembering that it meant Christmas was just around the corner.
Medina’s 5-year-old son, Aden, said, “Wow! I loved the lights and really liked it.”
When asked what he wanted for Christmas, he said, “I’m not gonna tell you because it’s a secret.”