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Eastpointe, Roseville

Cities light up with holiday spirit

Eastpointe and Roseville hold annual tree lightings

December 12, 2012

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After the festivities slowed at Eastpointe’s annual tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 5, Santa kidded with Assistant City Manager Randy Altimus, a University of Michigan fan, about a green bulb that city employees hid on the tree inside City Hall.
Santa holds 22-month-old Kaleigh Hughes at the annual tree-lighting ceremony in Roseville Dec. 6.

EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — The cities of Eastpointe and Roseville were abounding with holiday cheer when they held their annual tree lightings Dec. 5 and 6, respectively.

Both lightings brought out hundreds of residents and included music, doughnuts, hot cocoa and a visit from Santa.

Eastpointe’s lighting, at 7 p.m. Dec. 5, featured music by the East Detroit High School band and choir. The night started off with Santa receiving the key to the city and, with the help of two lucky students, lighting the tree in City Hall Plaza.

Fifth-grader Shanice Mathews and fourth-grader Brayden Aiello were chosen for the big role.

“The kids did a great job,” said Tony Lipinski, the director of the Recreational Authority of Eastpointe and Roseville. “I talked to the superintendent and asked her to recommend two students that (are) deserving or good kids that needed a self-esteem boost, and she talked to the principal at Pleasantview.”

The East Detroit band and choir groups played music both during the lighting and inside city hall. Band and Choir Director Ellizar Abalos said it was a great event for the kids to play at and he was impressed with how well they did.

“They haven’t done this event in a long time, and it was great having the band and the choir play it together,” Abalos said, mentioning also that it was a great preview for their upcoming winter holiday concert at East Detroit High School Dec. 19. “(The tree lighting) is an incredible event to have them participate in and get out and see the community.”

While bringing out a large crowd, the event ran smoothly and concluded by 8:30 p.m.

“The outside stuff goes real quick, and then everyone comes inside for doughnuts and to see Santa,” said Lipinski. “At least 200 people came tonight, and the line to see Santa was to the back of the building, but everything moved quickly and efficiently.”

City officials said that 200 is about average for the annual event, but many regular attendees seemed impressed with the crowd size.

“I was really impressed with the number of people that showed up today. It was more than I have seen before,” said Eastpointe resident Doug Trocino. “It went really well.”

Sentiment was the same the following night, when Roseville held their annual tree lighting from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 6.

“We’ve been very, very busy,” said JoAnn DiCiuccio, a member of the Beautification Commission — one of the sponsoring groups for the event — who worked the food tent, passing out doughnuts and cocoa to a long line of residents. “I think we’ve had more people come through tonight than normal.”

“We are expecting anywhere between 400-600 kids to come through tonight,” said Bobbie Wilson, the assistant director of the Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe.

To combat long wait times to see Santa, Wilson and rec authority workers manned activity stations. Inside City Council chambers, where Santa’s throne was set up, two large-screen televisions played holiday movies.

“We have letters to Santa, and they can deposit them in the special mailbox that goes straight to the North Pole; we have coloring pages and we have special holiday tattoos that we will be putting on the kids tonight,” Wilson said. “Outside, we have Santa’s live reindeer. Prancer and Donnor are here tonight, along with cider, hot chocolate and doughnuts for everyone that is here tonight.”

From the young to old, the event seemed to be enjoyed by everyone.

“It was great,” said Mayor John Chirkun. “We had more people here than I think we ever had. It was a great time. The weather held out. I had two young men on stage with me whose father is over in Kuwait right now. They were up with us with everyone from council and sang in the sing-along.”

In Roseville, the tree-lighting ceremony kicks off with a holiday carol sing-along with council and the arrival of Santa on a fire truck. It culminates with each kid having a chance to tell Santa what he or she wants for Christmas. Video game systems, Barbie dolls and ponies seemed to be the most requested items, but 6-year-old Maya Green decided to ask Santa for a puppy — a boy Chihuahua that she would name Lucky.

“I would name him Lucky because I feel like he would be lucky to be with my family,” Green said.

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