By Karen Daniels
As the Stafford High School and Middle School choirs sang festive songs, parents and citizens gathered for the annual tree lighting ceremony held last Thursday at the Stafford Centre. The evening had just enough crispness in the air to warrant holiday sweaters and jackets. Part holiday celebration, part patriotic recognition, the ROTC posted colors, led the audience in the pledge of allegiance, before the choir sang a moving rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Mayor Scarcella, wearing a red and green Gatsby hat, said a few words welcoming the crowd. Beside him, a large wrapped box with a handle and a decorative bow. After the countdown, the Mayor pulled the handle, and without any hitch the entire Stafford Centre was lit up in bright, white lights, as a collected gasp from the audience could be heard.
The choir began Here Comes Santa Claus as the Stafford Fire Department, with their lights and sirens ringing, arrived on the scene with a very important person. From the top of the fire truck, Santa Claus waved to the crowd, their bright reds matching perfectly. Everyone was invited inside for snacks and refreshments and more holiday singing. Excited kids stood in line to meet Santa as their parent’s snapped this year’s holiday photo.
The City of Stafford has held the tree-lighting ceremony for the past 15 years (8 at the Stafford Center, 7 at City Hall). Mayor Scarcella feels it’s important for a city to be there for citizens when things are good and bad. After Ike, the Stafford Centre opened their doors for those who were temporarily displaced. “It’s wonderful to utilize the city equipment and facilities for the children and their families.”