Center Line celebrated its 70th Tree  Lighting event on Dec. 9.

Center Line celebrated its 70th Tree Lighting event on Dec. 9.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Center Line rings in holiday season with 70th tree lighting

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published December 15, 2023

  Santa Claus received the key to the city in Center Line.

Santa Claus received the key to the city in Center Line.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


CENTER LINE — Santa Claus came to town for Center Line’s 70th tree lighting on Dec. 9, where nearly 900 people from the community gathered in Memorial Park for festive events on a balmy night.

“The tree lighting has been around for 70 years. It’s pretty amazing that the families have been coming out to join the city to start off their holiday festivities,” said Center Line Parks and Recreation Director Shawn Massaria.

The Center Line Public Safety Department brought Santa to the park in one of their firetrucks where he passed out more than 300 stockings filled with toys for children who came to see him, according to Massaria.

The Center Line High School choir sang “Here Comes Santa Claus” as the jolly fellow made his way to the stage. Santa received the key to the city and was joined by a local student as the pair lit up the Christmas tree.

The 20-foot inflatable reindeer was a big hit.

“Everybody absolutely loved him,” said Massaria. “His name was Cookie.”

Hot chocolate and coffee were donated by Center Line’s Biggby Coffee and were handed out by the Center Line Lions Club, along with cookies and candy canes for the kids.

The public safety officers lit a big bonfire for everyone to gather around.

“We have a firetruck that stays on the grounds while that fire is at the park,” said Massaria. “When the tree lighting is over, they put the fire out.”

There were horse and pony rides.

“Older children can’t go on the ponies. I never want a child to be told they can’t have a ride, so I do both horse and pony,” said Massaria.

The horse-drawn carriage rides and the s’mores station were two very popular events, according to Massaria. The carriage picked up passengers in front of the Center Line Parks and Recreation facility. It went south on Lawrence Avenue to the first turnaround and then came back to the Parks and Recreation building.

The s’mores station gave free s’mores.

“It is a propane bonfire pit so we can control the flame a little bit more. That way the kids are able to roast a marshmallow,” said Massaria. “I use sugar ice cream cones. We put chocolate chips inside the ice cream cones and the children can roast their marshmallow and put their marshmallow right inside the ice cream cone.”

The Friends of the Center Line Library do a cookie walk, which means anybody can donate baked goods and they are sold for a donation which benefits library programs.

“It is always a lot of fun to see the creativity of some of the baked goods, and of course, appreciate the generosity of the community in providing those baked goods to the Friends of the Library,” Center Line Library Director Wesleyann Johnson said.

According to Johnson, the Friends of the Library raised more than $1,000 at the event and met their goal.

“The Friends of the Library are our No. 1 supporter here in sponsoring so many of our programs for all ages and some materials for the library,” Johnson said. “It’s just a lovely event all the way around and it’s a great kickoff to the holiday season.”

Johnson added, “Definitely always encourage individuals to go out to their local libraries now and into the New Year. There is so much going on and to get involved because it’s a great time to get involved with their libraries.”