A crowd of about 500 people showed up to witness the 8th annual holiday tree lighting Thursday night at .
“The purpose of (the event) is to celebrate the holiday season,” said Jack Harrison, administrator of the . “The event is to start off the holiday season, light the Christmas tree for the park, and have Santa for the kids.”
“This was the biggest turnout we’ve ever had," said Harrison.
He attributed the high attendance to the good weather and better promotion.
“This is the best weather we’ve had in recent years," Harrison said.
Rain or shine, the tree lighting takes place every year. Tom Seaton, conductor of the River City Concert Band, attested to that. Even when it was pouring buckets, he has attended with his band for the last 8 years.
“We started the tree lighting with them,” said Seaton, adding that his favorite part is the sing-alongs and getting the crowd involved and in the holiday spirit.
The River City Concert Band kicked off the night with lively holiday music as Susan Skinner led the crowd in several popular carols. She even got the kids involved, pulling up some children up front with her to join in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
The crowd counted down as the trees were officially lit. Families posed for photos in front of the lights, as the Grinch snuck up on people and gave some kids a fright. But the most popular attraction was Santa Clause.
“I think seeing the kids visit Santa Claus is the highlight,” said Harrison.
The line for Santa was long even after all the other booths had packed up, the band had gone home and the crowds had dispersed. Children waited in line eagerly with their families for a chance to sit on Santa’s lap.
Carmichael resident Jeri Hart-Johnson brought two grandchildren and two great grand children to see the lighting of the tree.
“I enjoyed it because I see it through the eyes of the children,” said Hart-Johnson. “We were here last year and we thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Her grandson John Johnson, 7, was excited to sit on Santa’s lap for the first time and when asked his favorite part of the night he responded with “Cookies!”
Even if you missed Thursday’s tree lighting, you can still see the lit trees at Carmichael Park every evening throughout the holiday season. The lights and decorations will remain in the park until after Christmas.
The event is co-sponsored by the Carmichael Recreation & Park District, the , the , and the .