Tuesday was a magical night in North Augusta for children, including the mayor’s 10-year-old granddaughter, who flipped the switch to light the city’s Christmas tree and holiday decorations.
On live TV, flanked by Santa Claus and her grandparents, Mayor Bob Pettit and first lady Mary Pettit, Molly Glenn counted down with the crowd and lit up Calhoun Park as they cheered.
Then she was off to hang out with her friends. Plenty of them were there.
Several hundred people packed the park to listen to music played by bands from North Augusta and Paul Knox middle schools and eat marshmallows and pizza.
It was the first time for Flip Hooks, a 12-year-old trumpet player from North Augusta middle. His favorite part? “Just playing.”
Abby Hill, 14, and brother Preston, 10, brought their 3-month-old German short-haired pointer named Sadie, who sat in Abby’s lap and soaked up all the petting passersby could give.
Six-year-old Karter Widgeon came to listen to her older cousin Judah Ashcraft, a Paul Knox band member, play his trombone. She smiled and waved her hand as the band played Holly Jolly Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and other favorites.
Lacy Sweger, 3, scampered about as her mother, Kelsea, held Apollo, a 9-week-old German shepherd, on a leash. This is Lacy’s family’s first Christmas in North Augusta, having recently moved from New York to be closer to their extended family.
Pettit noted the traditional significance of the evergreen tree, promising hope and symbolizing the Christmas spirit, and recalled what President Ronald Reagan said during a similar tree-lighting in Washington:
“It’s as if each one of those twinkling lights sends a new spirit of love, hope and joy through our hearts. And, of course, the brightest light of all is the Star of Peace, expressing our hopes and prayers for peace for our families, our communities, our nation and the world.”
Christmas, Pettit said, is a time when “we can all be children again,” and recalled how his grandparents would come over “and wait for my brother and me to get up.”
“They were as anxious as we were to share Christmas morning,” he said.
As Pettit spoke, the doors of Lookaway Inn opened and a familiar figure in a red suit walked out, turning every young head.
“Look, Mommy,” a young boy cried. “It’s Santa Claus!”