Downtown Manchester kicks off holiday season with tree-lighting
By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Wed., Dec. 11, 2013
A beautiful new community Christmas tree graces the lawn at St. James Church on Main Street in Manchester, and with its ceremonious lighting on Thursday night, Dec. 5, the holiday season in Manchester officially began.
“The holidays in Connecticut start right here!” said Scott Gray, a radio sportscaster serving as master of ceremonies. “This is home. It’s where you want to be on the holidays,” he said.
The 20-foot Balsam fir was a donation from Dianne and Jeff Hedrick of Glastonbury, and was selected from a field of 50 tree offers. It replaces a tree that was badly damaged during last year’s storm Sandy.
Hundreds of people gathered on the front lawn at St. James, as they were serenaded with a variety of Christmas and seasonal music by the Summit Singers, the Silk City Barbershop Chorus, and an ensemble from the Manchester Citadel Band of the Salvation Army. During the ceremonies, several individuals and groups were recognized for their contributions to the community, including “Cruisin’ on Main Street” and the Manchester Rotary Foundation for absorbing costs for moving the donated tree and preparing the site, as well as three individual area churches for helping to raise more than $13,000 this year through the Crop Walk in an effort to end hunger one step at a time.
The most anticipated special guest for the evening was, hands down, Santa Claus, who, after a rousing chorus of “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” arrived by a special envoy of Manchester Fire/Rescue vehicles. Along with a select group of “official tree-lighters” from Highland Park Elementary School, Santa helped flip the switch that turned on the lights on the tree. He also spent time with the children listening to their special requests.
The special event coincided with the Imagine Main Street holiday festival, a collection of music, art and in-store holiday festivities throughout the lighted and decorated downtown shops and businesses along Main Street.
“I’ve brought my grandchildren to this every year for a long time,” said Anne Robertson, who accompanied her grandchildren Cayden and Evan to the event. The three found a cozy spot to await Santa’s arrival down near the tree in his sleigh.
“I really like it. It’s fun,” said Cayden.