Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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November 16, 2012

Santa part of coming event

TVCC to stage tree-lighting ceremony with other attractions

Athens — Each holiday season, the plaza at Trinity Valley Community College becomes a new place, as lights are strung, and the tree goes up.

Three years ago, the college began its celebration of the season with a tree-lighting ceremony. Since then, the tree-lighting ceremony has become a tradition.

This year, TVCC is once again inviting the community to come out for refreshments, music and a little holiday cheer as the giant tree is lit.

This year's tree-lighting ceremony will start with live music from the TVCC band and choir programs at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 26.  The lighting itself will be at 7 p.m.  The ceremony and light refreshments will be offered free-of-charge, and the community is welcome to attend.

The event will take place in the Bob McDonald Plaza, which is located in the center of the Athens campus.

In addition to the musical groups, the TVCC Cardettes and the Cheerleaders will be involved in the festivities as well. And Santa Claus, himself, is expected to make an appearance.

The tree lighting will look the same as in past years. But there is one major change in the upcoming celebration: The person behind the scenes. With the retirement of the former event coordinator, Shawn Leis, the college's energy conservation specialist, has taken over the ceremony.

"I love Christmas, so I wanted to volunteer to do this. Christmas has always been a really cool time for me, and I am looking to share that with the college and the community," said Leis.

With the help of fellow TVCC employees Courtney Walker and Donna Godwin, Leis said the tree will have a much different look than in years past. The tree, which is being brought on campus, thanks to the help of Howdy Acres Tree Farm in Athens, is 25-feet tall.

"We wanted to start to move more toward a Rockefeller Center look," said Leis. "We want it to not just be decorating the tree, but also lighting the whole plaza for the holidays."

When the ceremony began, said Leis, the college adopted it on a trial basis. But the first years have been very successful. So over the past year, an in-ground, permanent tree stand was built by the welding students, and wiring for the decorations has been installed.

"The tree is here to stay, and we are glad," said Leis.

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