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A crowd of hundreds countdown at the annual tree lighting in City Park

December 02, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Alex Gregory, 9, with the Hagerstown Childrens Theater cheers when the Christmas Tree lights come on after the countdown given by Mayor Bruchey, Friday at Hagerstown City Park.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

Five. Four. Three. Two. One.

With gusto, a crowd of hundreds shouted the countdown, staring in anticipation at the dark surface of the City Park lake, where a spruce draped in light soon would emerge.

"It's nice that they put this on every year," said Tim Miles of Hagerstown.

"I just love it here," said his fiance, Phyllis Ewell.

"It's not Christmas if we don't come here," said Jason Perez, 10.

The city of Hagerstown hosted its annual tree lighting Friday night at City Park.

In addition to a 20-foot evergreen floating on the lake — donated this year by Ed Peters of Hagerstown — the city also illuminates more than a dozen silhouettes around the water.

Each year, the city adds a new silhouette to the display. This year's addition was Little Heiskell, a symbol of Hagerstown. It was sponsored by the Columbia Bank-Hagerstown Trust Division and Verizon Wireless, according to a city news release.

At the count of the crowd, led by Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, each display was lit.

All of the displays were lit but one — the big "one." The tree.  

Lights on the tree occasionally would come to life, only to go dark again.

"We were a bit disappointed that the tree won't stay lit," Patricia Farr said.

"It's a little disappointing to see the tree going on and off, but you can't expect everything to be perfect," Ewell said. "It's still nice."

Some people questioned if the tree lights were designed to turn on and off.

Junior Mason, city parks and recreation superintendent, said the tree lights were intended to stay lit and that workers were attempting to fix the problem, he said.  

Technical difficulties could not dim the Christmas joy for the hundreds who came to the event.

For Ewell and Miles, the park is part of their every day, Ewell said. It was where they had their first date, and will be where they marry, she said.

The tree lighting also is a Christmas tradition for the couple, she said.

Much as it is for Farr and her family.

When asked about the lights, Jason said they were good. Andrew Ehmer, 7, called them "kind of cool."

It was Santa on the boat that caught Andrew's eye.

"I thought Santa rides a motorcycle," he said.

But as they walked around the park, it wasn't lights, but rather the prospect of a hayride that put a gleam in Andrew's and Jason's eyes.

In addition to the light displays, about 1,500 luminarias surrounded the park. Luminarias were sold by Hospice of Washington County in honor or remembrance of loved ones, according to the release.

Hagerstown's Children's Theater members sang for the crowd gathered to watch the lighting.

Following the lighting, the city of Hagerstown hosted receptions at the Hager House, Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and Mansion House Art Center, according to the release.

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