The City of West Columbia is hosting its 15th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on Friday, Dec. 6, at 6:30 p.m., at the West Columbia City Hall, 200 N. 12th St.

It’s one of the biggest community events of the year and students from local schools are anticipating the chance to participate.

“The most special part of Christmas, and the tree lighting, is because of the children,” said West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles, who was elected in November. It’s his first tree lighting as mayor.

“Children make the Christmas season magical.”

The Brookland Cayce High School Band, Cyril B. Busbee Creative Arts Academy Chorus, Northside Middle School Chorus, and Riverbank Elementary Chorus will perform holiday classics for the tree lighting crowd.

Elizabeth Dodson and chorus co-director Laura Crim will be at the tree lighting Friday with the Riverbank Elementary School Honors Choir of fourth-and-fifth graders. Dodson said she, and her students, are looking forward to the tree lighting.

“We performed last year, said Dodson. “The students had a blast. We enjoyed it so much, we called and asked if we could come back this year.”

Dr. Charles Stegall is the choir director at Northside Middle School. He is bringing his seventh-and-eighth-grade concert choir to sing at the tree lighting.

“It gives our students a chance to interact with the community,” said Stegall. “The students really look forward to singing at the tree lighting. It helps them so much to sing in front of so many people. It motivates them to do their best.”

In addition to the music, the tree lighting includes a “What Christmas Means To Me” essay contest. The essay winners from each school are recognized at the tree lighting. They also get to read their winning essays or poems. There is an art competition for students, too.

Genevieve Roberts, a fifth-grader at Saluda River Academy for the Arts, has submitted entries in the art and essay contests.”It has been a lot of fun,” said Roberts of her effort to participate.

Caroline Cantrell, also a fifth-grader at SRAA, submitted art work. She said she is excited to be a part of the tree lighting.

The winning artwork entry will be featured on the cover of the event program. The top three entries will be displayed on the Art on State wall in the Interactive Art Park at 425 Meeting Street.

SRAA Principal Jim Leblanc said he loves the West Columbia tree lighting.

“It’s a tradition that our students, staff, and our art teachers look forward to every year,” he said. “It gives us a chance to showcase our students’ writing and artistic ability. It’s also an opportunity for the school to connect with the community.”

Radio and television personality Joe Pinner will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. The Christmas message will be given by Pastor Dow Welsh from Holland Avenue Baptist Church.

At the conclusion of the program, a reception will be held in the New Brookland Room of the West Columbia City Hall. Refreshments are provided by local West Columbia restaurants, organizations, and businesses.

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