Hard work pays off in words of child

Published 12:02 am Sunday, November 30, 2014

With visions of pyrotechnics still dancing in her eyes, the tiny redhead turned back, threw up her little hand and softly said, “Bye-bye.”

And with that my daughter Anna’s first Natchez tree-lighting ceremony was in the history books.

Her telling the large downtown Natchez Christmas tree bye-bye was a sign of the young toddler’s approval. At her age, the details of Christmas haven’t fully sunken in yet, so she’s not overly enthused by anything labeled as being a part of Christmas, at least not yet.

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Besides, at this point, not everything she encounters gets such a positive farewell.

Clearly she was impressed.

Family travel last year prevented us from attending the tree-lighting ceremony, but this year’s event was clearly the best ever.

If you didn’t make this year’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony, you missed out. I hope you’ll all be there next year to enjoy the beautiful start to Natchez’s Christmas season.

The city has been making a big deal out of lighting the tree for years and years, but this year’s ceremony was over-the-top.

Fireworks sparkled and illuminated the area at the base of the enormous tree, which was pretty spectacular, though the sudden booms and blazes seemed to scare the heck out of many people standing around us.

But the most interesting part of Friday’s tree lighting was almost silent — except for the machines that hummed to make it snow across a portion of the intersection of Main and Commerce streets.

Tiny snowflakes flurried across the sky — courtesy a few Hollywood effects machines — making the tree seem as if it were in some northern city, not the oldest — and arguably most Southern — settlement on the Mississippi River.

As Mayor Butch Brown suggested to the crowd, the event was also grand because each participant took the time out of their schedule to come see Natchez’s Christmas season come to life.

In the half a dozen or so years since a small band of Natchez women decided to promote the Christmas season more, the Christmas in Natchez events have become bigger and better each year.

Such events don’t happen overnight. You just don’t plan to have a big event and people show up. Success like Friday night’s crowded tree-lighting take time and patience — and a lot of hard work.

The Natchez area is filled with such events — Spring Pilgrimage, the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, the Jim Bowie Festival.

Each of those events depends upon a pile of hard work from mostly volunteers, many of whom get little to no credit for their work.

Such endeavors are often for the love of a particular cause or out of a love for the event itself, but a greater good is served nonetheless.

On Friday, as the artificial snow fell and the pyrotechnics exploded, few of the hundreds in the crowd probably thought to stop and realize how much work went into the event.

Rest assured, the hard work paid off as evident in the smiles on the dozens of familiar faces I saw in the crowd and the comments that came afterward.

“That was really impressive,” one woman was heard saying as she was walking away.

I told someone as we were leaving that it looked like a professional production, not just something that was thrown together, which was the look of some of the city’s early lighting ceremonies.

For one little girl the event was summed up with two words, “bye-bye.” Unspoken, but implied was that she’ll see the tree again soon.

I’ll bet she does.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.