Friday, December 2, 2011

Mayor’s Christmas Tree 2011

Hey, folks! Last night was the annual lighting of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, and I have pictures to show you!

Indeed, this is the first year we could walk on the new pedestrian walkway on the Missouri River Bridge to get a look at the Mayor's Christmas Tree as part of the Jefferson City skyline. See?

This event is always very pleasant—exactly how this kind of gathering should be: Unpretentious, sincere, fun, Christmassy, uncomplicated, welcoming. It’s usually pretty cold for this event, but this year we got a break in that regard—it was only pretty chilly!

The theme this year was “Christmas in Paradise” (which matches the theme of the holiday parade that will be held tomorrow)—so the tree is decorated with the shapes of toucans, flamingos, coconuts, hibiscus flowers, and so on. They were handing out leis last night, in addition to the cookies, fresh hot popcorn, hot cocoa, and hot cider.

A new element was added to last night’s festivities: Fireworks! When the tree was lit, fireworks were shot off of a barge on the Missouri. Very nice effect! It sure added to the excitement! (An “Op Op Hooray!” to the organizers!)

Another thing that made this year’s ceremony special was the presence of nineteen-year-old Derrik Sweeney, the American college student from Jefferson City who was recently arrested—and released—by authorities in Cairo. You might have seen him mentioned on the national news! It’s great to have him home and safe, just in time for the holidays!

This was the first year for our new mayor, Eric Struemph, to host the event. I’m glad he decided to continue this relatively new tradition, which takes place at Rotary Park, a pleasant little public space at the north end of Bolivar Street, where the Old Missouri River Bridge used to be. It’s a great place to stand and view the river, the bridge, the railroad, and the capitol.

And this time of year, with the Christmas tree there, it’s especially fun.

These kind of events go really far, I think, to nurture a sense of community in the city. A youth choir sings, Rotarians and other volunteers are thanked, and cookies, popcorn, and hot sweet beverages are enjoyed.

And Santa and Mrs. Claus mingle with the crowd and take time to crouch down and chat privately with the youngest Jefferson Citians.

Yeah, I’m glad Mayor Struemph lit up his tree this year. Thanks, Mayor, for a great evening!


Special thanks to Susan Ferber for supplying most of the photos in this post. She did an awesome job of catching special moments in dark, photographically challenging circumstances. Thanks, Sue!

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