City welcomes Christmas with tree lighting

Published 12:01 am Saturday, December 1, 2007

NATCHEZ — The intersection of Main and Commerce streets filled with people Friday night to usher in the holiday season.

Schoolchildren donned Santa hats and sang Christmas songs while people munched on cookies.

Wide-eyed, three-year-old Honna Leigh Crawford waited patiently with her parents Jamey and Heather for the huge tree to light.

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“She’s never been to anything like this,” her mother Heather Crawford said. “I thought she’d be real excited to see it.”

Natchez residents Mike and Roberta Phipps came downtown to see their second-grade granddaughter sing with the Frazier Elementary choir.

“It’s a nice way to kick off the holiday spirit,” Roberta Phipps said.

Ashton Gibson, 5, said he wanted to see the big tree.

“I saw it last year,” he said. “I like the lights on it. It’s colorful and beautiful.”

After more carols, the crowd counted down to the lighting, and the tree twinkled on to claps and cheers.

For Sharon Baughman, the lighting was a chance to be part of the community.

“I think it’s exciting to be able to come out,” she said. “I’ve lived here two years, and I’ve been both years. It’s beginning the celebration of Christmas in a small town.”

For Baughman, who moved from Atlanta, a downtown tree that towered above the surrounding buildings was unusual.

“I don’t know many towns that have a Christmas tree in the middle of an intersection and people don’t run into it,” she said.

Next weekend, downtown Natchez will again greet the holiday season with its annual Christmas parade at 6 p.m. Dec. 8.