Hundreds gathered in the crisp December air Tuesday night for the annual Lone Grove tree lighting. The crowd was thick outside the Lone Grove Fire Department while everyone waited for Santa Claus to light the tree and distribute gifts.
“It’s a good crowd we’ve got here,” Lone Grove City Manager Ian O’Neal said. “The weather is great for it. Last year it was really cold.”
The evening began with the Lone Grove Little Local Vocals singing several songs, and various churches and organizations gave away free cookies, hot chocolate and hot apple cider.
Next, the Lone Grove High School band came marching in with Santa following behind. After Santa sat on his chair, he then lit the tree as the band played “Jingle Bells.” Once the tree was lit children sat on his lap, telling him their Christmas wish list. At this point the city itself began to give away gifts.
City Manager Ian O’Neal explained that all of the gifts and cash prizes were donations from local businesses. Winners were selected by a random draw, and each person present was welcome to get one ticket. They handed out separate tickets for children and adults.
“Our local merchants really come through for us,” O’Neal said. On the list of gifts this year were numerous bicycles for children, an Xbox One, a big screen television, and “lots and lots of cash.”
“I think we’re giving away $1,800 in cash prizes to adults and kids,” O’Neal said.