Thousands braved the crisp night air and waited with bated breath for the big moment, the lighting of Columbia County's Christmas tree.
The lighting ceremony for the county's tree, titled "Christmas in America," took place last Saturday at the Columbia County Justice Center courthouse.
Columbia County Commission Chairman James L. Whitehead Sr. estimated that 2,000 people came to see the tree lighting.
"I'm ecstatic with the turnout," Whitehead said. "The entertainment is wonderful and everything looks great. We've got a lovely new tree with the new annex serving as a great backdrop. Barry (Paschal, publisher of The Columbia County News-Times) is to be commended, as well as the dozens of volunteers who worked, worked, worked and worked on this."
This was the second year of the annual community-oriented event that also offered concessions, a crafts market and lots of Christmas cheer. The event, presented by The Columbia County News-Times and Columbia County Recreation and Leisure Services, featured performances by groups such as Vineyard Church Praise Band, Greenbrier High School Jazz Band, Columbia County schools mass chorus, the Columbia County Choral Society and more.
Retired Chaplain Lt. Col. Galvin Garner, who was at Pearl Harbor when it came under attack, flips the switch to light Columbia County's Christmas tree. The Christmas event also honored the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"We seemed to have a lot of happy families and people of all ages having a good time," said Beth Roberson, Columbia County Recreation and Leisure Services' special events coordinator. "This is the kind of event that can uplift a community and really get them into the spirit of the season."
The event also commemorated the 61st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On tree-lighting duty was Chaplain retired Col. Calvin Garner, who was a sailor aboard the USS Argonne, a flagship in Pearl Harbor's Naval Yard Dock, when the Japanese unleashed the surprise attack.
"I get asked to do things like this all the time and I'm always honored to be a part of anything that remembers my compatriots who died at Pearl Harbor," said Garner, still spry at 79 years of age. "I'm very proud to represent those great men and the United States of America, the greatest civilization in history."
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