Sonya Lavigne sings during the Lake City Christmas tree lighting celebration Saturday. Lavigne is the neice of Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
LAKE CITY — There are not too many things that can upstage Santa Claus in the eyes of a child.
A 55-foot tall, bright, shiny Christmas tree though? That did the trick for Brianna and Alexis Cox during Lake City’s tree lighting celebration Saturday.
The celebration included singing by Sonya Lavigne and city employee Andy Aster, hot chocolate and a visit from Santa Claus. But the highlight came when city leaders and Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeff Turner flipped the switch to officially light the town’s holiday display.
“It’s beautiful,” said Brianna Cox, 7. “I like the Christmas tree because it’s so sparkly.”
This marked the 10th annual tree lighting celebration for Lake City, said Mayor Willie Oswalt. Despite temperatures that were dropping ever closer to the freezing point, about 400 people bundled up in blankets and heavy coats to attend the short event.
“On behalf of Lake City, we wish you a good thanksgiving and a very happy Christmas,” Oswalt told residents and out-of-town visitors who attended the celebration.
While there were several adults who attended the celebration, there was also a plethora of children in the audience as many families came together to usher in the holiday season. And the chance to spend quality time with family wasn’t lost on the children who attended the event.
“It was a fantastic night, getting to spend it with family and friends and watching the singing, getting pictures taken with Santa and seeing the tree,” said Angela Avila, 10. “It was a spectacular night.”
Given the choice of picking Santa or the Christmas tree as her favorite part, Avila echoed the sentiments of the Cox sisters and chose the tree.
Her brother, Brian, 11, and her god-sister, Edith Gonzalez, 10, had different ideas, though. They both preferred the one thing that could keep them at least somewhat warm on that cold night.
“The hot chocolate was the best,” said Brian Avila.
But Natalie Avila, 12, wasn’t ready to single any particular part of the celebration as being better than the others.
“I liked everything,” she said.