POINT PLEASANT — Christmas came early in Point Pleasant with the city’s annual parade and tree lighting taking place on Friday.
Witnessing a parade lineup which included Nativity-themed floats, marching bands, the Grinch, firetrucks and even Jack Skellington, was a large crowd which gathered along Main Street, many of them children who were searching for candy and Santa Claus. Following the parade, the crowd then moved to Gunn Park for the tree lighting ceremony which was resurrected a few years ago by Marla Cottrill, who still serves on the event committee, which includes Mayor Brian Billings and City Clerk Amber Tatterson.
Emceeing was Billings, who shared stories about the city workers and volunteers who all had a hand in the ceremony. Billings noted the efforts of Street Commissioner Randy Hall and his men who work in the street department and get the tree not only to Gunn Park but decorated. Butch Bonecutter of the street department estimates 2,000 lights adorn the tree.
Billings stated this year’s tree was donated by Dave and Mike Rawson. In recent years, Crow-Hussell Funeral Home paid for the tree but given the Rollins’ donation, Scott Justus of the funeral home instead made a donation to the splash pad project for Krodel Park.
Also participating in the ceremony was Beth Rollins who sang a Christmas song, followed by performances from the Point Pleasant Junior High Band, under the director of Chipper Hendricks; PPJ/SHS Choir, under the direction of Crystal Hendricks; and the PPHS Black Knight Band under the direction of Ben Loudin. Pastor Bob Patterson also sang a song before leading the crowd in a rendition of “Silent Night.”
Prior to the tree lighting, Pastor Chip Bennett of Bellemead UM Church, gave the Christmas message and reminded those gathered to seek light, literally and spiritually, this holiday season.
Billings, who was joined by Santa and Mrs. Claus then led the countdown to the big moment when the tree was lit, towering over the park, which includes themed trees from the Light of Christmas Tree Project which also illuminate Fourth Street. The themed trees also benefit the Toys for Kids organization.
“What a wonderful night in Point Pleasant,” Billings said. “On behalf of the citizens of our city I want to say thank you to those who participated in the parade and the many hundreds upon hundreds who came out to witness this event. I have never seen our city streets so jampacked on a Friday evening for a parade. I am so proud of each of the participants who took part in the tree lighting ceremony. The bands, choir, speakers and of course Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Just seeing the smiles on the faces of young and old alike was enough to tell me how thankful we should be to live here in Point Pleasant.“
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.