It was a perfect evening for the Fourth Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at City Hall last Friday, except for a couple of things that were missing like snow and temperatures closer to the 40-degree range.
Regardless, the lack of winter ambiance didn’t stop a group of about 100 residents from attending the festivities, which some recalled as a rather frigid experience last year.
The tree, which sits at the south side of City Hall, 305 Miller’s Crossing, is brand new this year, according to Casey Brazzil, Parks and Public Grounds Supervisor for the city of Harker Heights.
Brazzil said, “We were looking for something fresh. Our Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Bark did some research and here are the results of his efforts. The tree also has new ornaments, lights and some other special features supplied by Parks and Recreation.”
The tree is 18 feet tall from ground level to the top of the star. The tree is decked out at the base with huge colored presents that especially attracted the younger crowd and created countless photo opportunities for parents and other family members.
The evening began with holiday music performed by the Harker Heights High School Junior Varsity Orchestra followed by a welcome from Heather Buller, parks and recreation activities coordinator, and comments from Harker Heights Mayor Spencer Smith.
Smith emphasized that one of the important parts of the holidays is the sense of community and family. “We should cherish this city along with the military who live and work here along with those deployed across the world,” Smith said.
Smith stated that this time is special for Christians because they celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the anointed one and Messiah.
“The celebration of the evergreen tree like this one at City Hall preceded the birth of Christ,” Smith said. “Christmas didn’t really begin until the fourth century. The tree is eternal. In Germany and Scandinavia, it was the hope for the coming of the spring. As you celebrate this season, think about the hope, life and light that we have in Christmas.”
To light the tree, Brazzil and his crew built a switch that looked much like a plunger used in demolitions.
According to Brazzil, “We wanted a better approach than plugging two extension cords together. We made a switch box that worked by pushing the plunger down and on came the lights. We were excited when the mayor pushed the plunger; it worked like a charm!”
In addition to a crowd-pleasing light show, the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce provided coffee and cookies. Hot chocolate was served up by Papa’s Café with Shipley’s donating donuts.
James L. Clarkson, assistant director of the HHHS Junior Varsity Orchestra, told the Herald, “About 40 of our students came out tonight to play for the tree-lighting ceremony and were honored to be invited for the third year to help bring in the Christmas spirit.”
Some of the selections played by the orchestral ensemble included: “Deck the Halls,” “Let it Snow,” “Christmas Bells” and “Jingle Bells.”
With “Deck the Halls” playing in the background, Erin Nau, of Belton, explained that her son, who is a freshman, plays cello in the orchestra and she was there to watch his performance and enjoy the orchestra.
“This was a very nice event sponsored by Harker Heights where we could come out, be together and have another chance to hear the kids play in public,” Nau said.
Victoria Weaver, also a Belton resident, was impressed by the ceremony.
Weaver said, “This was my first time to attend this tree lighting. I’ve enjoyed listening to the music, the beautiful tree, and people coming out and enjoying all the festivities.”
The city’s Christmas activities continue this evening with the annual Frost Fest, which will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Market Heights shopping center.