Holiday tradition a success once more

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 17, 2013

 St. Clair Shores Mayor Kip Walby gives Santa Claus the key to the city before Santa flips on the tree lights.

St. Clair Shores Mayor Kip Walby gives Santa Claus the key to the city before Santa flips on the tree lights.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

ST. CLAIR SHORES — New residents and those who have lived here for decades mingled like a big, happy family as the St. Clair Shores Activities’ Committee’s Christmas Tree Lighting unfolded on a bright and cold December night.

An expanded program this year featured singers from the St. Clair Shores Community Chorus, dancers from two local studios, a reading of “The Night Before Christmas,” and — of course — the presentation of a key to the city from Mayor Kip Walby to Santa Claus, who arrived via fire truck with his wife.

“This is our first time,” said Jillian Hamilton, of St. Clair Shores, who came to the tree lighting with her husband and two sons. Reading about the event ahead of time, she said, it seemed “like a fun, easy, family-oriented, holiday thing to do really close to our house.”

She said her young son was quite excited to see the reindeer on city property.

“It was a fun surprise,” she said.

Santa’s reindeer were available for visits before the program began, as were deputies and horses from the Macomb County Sheriff’s Mounted division.

And then, after the arrival of Santa, the big switch was thrown to light up the night with décor spanning City Hall, the Police Department and streetlights in the area.

Mike Furneaux, of St. Clair Shores, said he comes to the event every year to see his own handiwork.

“I help put up the lights,” he said. “This puts you in the holiday spirit right here, right off the get-go. Just having all the community here together, seeing all your neighbors.”

Local community leaders and representatives from many city groups were in attendance at the event, which drew upwards of 2,000 people, according to initial estimates.

Councilman Ronald Frederick said he is always excited to come to the tree lighting. This year, he brought his 2-year-old grandson Parker along, to get the “next generation involved.”

And new resident Dwight Johnston came to the event for the first time with his wife and infant daughter.

“It’s nice. That’s one of the things we like about (St. Clair Shores),” he said. “It’s nice to be in a community like this.”

Councilwoman Candice Rusie said the event is a St. Clair Shores tradition, and now children, that grew up attending are bringing their children to experience the fun.

“It brings everyone together, and it takes everyone together to put it on,” she said.