About 100 people gathered on the south side of Harker Heights City Hall on Nov. 30 to view the Fifth Annual Lighting of the Christmas Tree.

The Harker Heights High School Orchestra, under the direction of Joshua Kroft, provided music of the season.

The emcee for the evening was Jeff Achee, the newly appointed director of parks and recreation. He introduced city staff, council members and the parks and recreation crew that assembled the tree.

Harker Heights Mayor Spencer H. Smith shared thoughts with the crowd about the symbolism in Christmas.

Smith said, “The evergreen tree appeared in the northern hemisphere and it meant life that never ends. The greenery meant hope for the spring and the growing season.

“In primitive times, they used candles for light the same way we use electric lights tonight. Light symbolizes hope for a future that will come.”

Smith added that at this time of year, we celebrate peace, a sense of community for us and a love for family and friends.

“In a military community like ours, so many of us have either lived that life or are living the life now that separates us from our loved ones during the holiday season,”

At 10 minutes before six p.m., Smith flipped the switch and the crowd, in unison, filled the night sky with “Oohs” and “Ahs” as they viewed the tree that glowed with hundreds of golden lights.

Resident Vickie Jones told the Herald, “This is my first time to attend a Christmas tree lighting at City Hall. The lights are beautiful and I came out to visit friends and hear the students perform.”

Fran Whitney, a native of Germany, and now a resident of Heights for the past 44 years said, “I’ve enjoyed coming out and meeting the mayor and visiting with all the people here.

I really liked the lights, too.”

Speaking of the lighting of the tree, this was the second time there’s been an actual switch to light the Christmas tree. Up until two years ago, the mayor would hold two extension cords and plug them together at the end of the countdown.

Casey Brazzil, parks and public grounds supervisor, said, “We wanted to make the lighting a little more extravagant, so two years ago my Christmas tree crew sat down and after two hours of discussion came up with the idea of what we refer to as something more exciting.”

The crew designed and built the switch last year and is now two-for-two for successful tree lightings.

According to Jerry Bark, public relations director for the city, the tree is 18 feet tall and is an Adirondack Mountain Pine. It has 16,700 tips and is adorned with 5,100 yellow-white LED lights.

The base of the tree measures 116 inches. At the top is a 3-foot wide nativity star, also adorned with LED lights.

The tree will remain in place until after New Year’s Day.

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