It would take more than a little rain to stop the people of Clovis from kicking off the holiday season Dec. 2 at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony outside of the Clovis Civic Center.
The event began at 6 p.m. with a light drizzle, though the weather cleared up 15 minutes into the ceremony.
“We’re doing this rain or shine,” said City of Clovis Recreational Supervisor Bryan Hines, who coordinates the ceremony.
Hines, who worked on the event for the last 20 years, said the lighting ceremony usually draws in a few hundred people of all ages each year. The City of Clovis has held the event for more than 25 years.
“Everyone loves being here,” Hines said. “It signifies the start of the holiday season for the city and it’s one of those events that is enjoyable for youth and adults. The kids get to see Santa Claus and the bright lights and all the cool things and the adults get to remember what it’s like to be a kid again.”
The Clark Intermediate choir opened the event with a number of holiday classics and concluded with a performance of the song “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas.”
Clovis Mayor Drew Bessinger took the podium after the performance to give opening remarks, saying the event brings the community together and “makes Clovis a special place to live and raise a family.”
The Clovis High School choir sang more holiday carols after the speech. The students surprised the crowd when they threw on leis necklaces for the Hawaiian holiday number “Mele Kalikimaka.”
Clovis High choir teacher Jennifer Applebee said her students began practicing Christmas carols for the event in October.
“Each year for our holiday season we try to pick a theme and this year we happened to do a stage and screen theme so we had songs from musicals or movies that were Christmas themed. ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ is from traditional holiday movies from the golden age of Hollywood,” she said. “The kids get excited for the lighting ceremony every year.”
The ceremony peaked when Santa Claus arrived in a Clovis trolley decked out with holiday lights and fake icicles. The crowd sang “Jingle Bells” and “Here Comes Santa Claus” to welcome Saint Nick, who concluded the ceremony along with Bessinger by lighting up the tree.
Hines said the only thing that has changed about the event is how Santa crashes the ceremony.
“When I started we would bring Santa in on a horse drawn sleigh, but now it’s a little harder to find someone who has the slay. So then we went to city vehicles, we’ve had him come in on fire trucks, police cars, and now Santa comes in on a Clovis transit trolley,” Hines said.
After the lighting ceremony ended, families took photos with Santa and enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate provided by the city and volunteers from the Clovis Senior Activity Center.
Nora Hill, who volunteered to serve cookies for the group, said she’s volunteered at the event since she moved to Clovis four years ago.
“It puts you in the Christmas spirit and it’s fun to see the kids, it’s fun to see Santa Clause. That’s why I keep coming back to do it every year,” Hill Said.