Crowds gather for lighting of tree

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 8, 2001

NATCHEZ – About 200 locals gathered Friday evening at the corner of Main and Commerce streets to hear carols, sip hot chocolate and see the lighting of the community Christmas tree.

Among them was Yvonne Green, who was there not only to enjoy the gathering herself, but also to accompany 10 children from the Sunshine Shelter, where she is a child care worker.

&uot;I’m here for them,&uot; Green said, smiling as the children looked around at the crowd and the lighted tree.

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&uot;I liked it when we counted down&uot; to the lighting of the tree, said one girl, with a boy from the shelter adding that the hot chocolate was his favorite part.

Nearby, Betty Mullins of Natchez and her daughter, Tina Brewer of Vidalia, listened to Christmas carols as Brewer’s 5-month-old daughter, Tiffany, looked around, her eyes wide.

&uot;I’ve lived here for years and I’ve never been to the tree lighting, but I’ve enjoyed it,&uot; Mullins said.

&uot;This is a better crowd than last year,&uot; said Sherri Rabb of the Natchez Downtown Development Association.

That association, along with the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce Unification Committee, organized the event.

The choirs of Holy Family Catholic Church and Jefferson Street United Methodist Church and the singing group the Taffetas sang a medley of Christmas carols.

They ranged from &uot;Angels We Have Heard on High&uot; to &uot;It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.&uot;

Standing on the steps of the old Britton & Koontz First National Bank building, Natchez Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith read a proclamation declaring the official start of the Christmas season.

Then, the crowd joined in counting down the seconds until 3-year-old Marcella Brown -with help from Rabb – flipped a switch to light the tree.

The event ended with children lining up in front of the old bank building’s steps to sit on Santa Claus’ lap and tell him what they want for Christmas.

A nearby tent had coffee, hot chocolate and cookies for all – although the hot drinks weren’t a necessity like they were last year.

Last year’s event featured freezing cold temperatures and hail, said NDDA Executive Director Tammi Mullins.

&uot;We’ve been blessed with better weather this year,&uot; she said of Friday evening’s mild temperatures and dry weather.

Event sponsors included Callon Petroleum Co., Canal Street Coffee Roasters, 95 Country/Jamz/The Buzz, the Natchez Kiwanis Club and The Ramada Inn.