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Holiday spirit alight in city

November 22, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

erinc@herald-mail.com

Wide-eyed and grinning, 9-year-old Christian Doub stood at the base of a 30-foot Christmas tree Monday.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Christian flipped a switch, turning on hundreds of sparkling red, white and blue lights.

"I didn't know I could do something like that," he said. "I'm excited. I thought it was pretty amazing."

Christian's mother, Renee Doub, said her son, a student at Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown, was nominated by his teachers to perform the night's most important task - turning on the lights at the tree-lighting ceremony in Public Square.

The 30-foot-tall blue spruce was donated to the city by John and Carol Plum of Boonsboro.

As Christian flipped the switch, Carol Plum admired the tree she and her husband nurtured and "babied" since 1989. John Plum, who used to spray the large tree with Miracle-Gro, was not at the Monday evening event.

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"This is really bittersweet," Carol Plum said. "I have a funny feeling in my heart."

John Plum spent Monday night, and every night since early last week, in Washington County Hospital being treated for an infection. Carol Plum said her husband was in critical condition in the hospital's intensive-care unit.

"It's hard to be here without him," she said. "He had been keeping a good eye on the tree so nothing would happen to it."

Hagerstown Department of Public Works employees tested the lights Sunday night to make sure they would work for the official ceremony Monday, said Frank Nuice, a city employee.

Employees started setting up about 3:30 p.m., and about 100 people gathered around the tree when Santa Claus arrived about 6 p.m.

Barbara Crummitt of Hagerstown and her 5-year-old son, Michael, said they were slightly discouraged by the light rain that fell throughout the evening and the cold temperatures.

"But we wanted to see Santa," Crummitt said.

Tracy Edwards of Clear Spring brought two of her four children, Cole, 7, and Jenna, 4, to the event.

"We've already started decorating for Christmas and this just gets us in the Christmas spirit," Edwards said.

Theresa Slater of Hagerstown brought her 10-year-old granddaughter, Tessa Slater, to the lighting.

Slater said it was the first time for both, but she was hoping to make the event an annual tradition for the pair.

"We used to drive around and see the lights," Slater said. "But we don't really do any family tradition things anymore, and I was hoping to start doing those things with (Tessa)."

Before the tree lighting, music was performed by the North Hagerstown High School brass ensemble and a South Hagerstown High School ensemble. Members of Girls Inc. of Washington County also sang during the ceremony.

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