12/05/17 — Fremont holds its first ever Christmas tree lighting event

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Fremont holds its first ever Christmas tree lighting event

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on December 5, 2017 11:42 AM

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People gather around the Christmas tree at the first-ever tree lighting ceremony in Fremont Friday night. The event featured storytelling, singing, hot chocolate and visits with Santa Claus.

The people of Fremont celebrated the Christmas season in style Friday night, as the town hosted its first-ever Christmas Tree lighting event.

Dozens of people gathered around the tree at the corner of Main Street and Goldsboro Street around 6 p.m., waiting for the ceremony to begin. Mayor Darron Flowers greeted the crowd and gave his opening thoughts on the evening.

"Christmas is a very special time here. It is very secular, a time for people to give gifts to each other. But for many of us, it is also an important religious time," he said. "I want to thank the board [of Aldermen] and the town staff, because we could not have done this without their hard work."

With that, Flowers invited his wife, Mary Lee, to hit the power switch. When she did, the tree lit up from the ground to the star on top, as did lights all down Main Street.

The Rev. Ira Reynolds, pastor at First Missionary Baptist Church in Fremont, took the stand next to tell the Biblical story of Christmas. As he finished the story of Jesus in the manger, he called on the gathered audience to join hands and bow their heads in prayer, after which he encouraged them all to hug one another and spread the Christmas spirit.

After Reynolds stepped down, Kenan Stewart took the podium to sing a few Christmas songs. Up first was a rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, followed by an A capella cover of the Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas Song, complete with realistic chipmunk vocals. He finished with a selection from White Christmas, and then joined the Fremont choir while they sang another selection of carols.

After the main ceremony had ended, the children and their families moved off toward the nearby gazebo to sit with Santa Claus. Matthew Taylor, 4, could hardly contain himself as he waited in line. Asked if he was excited for Christmas, his answer was concise.

"Yes, you get presents," he exclaimed, jumping in place.

Matthew's parents, Robbie and Virginia, said they came to the ceremony at the request of their older son, Michael, 17. Michael said he had been excited about the event since he heard about it.

"I love being part of the community here, I'm in the boy scouts here so I just want to be around when I can," he said.

As people began to disperse, Flowers said he was happy with how the night had gone on.

"I feel really good, we didn't know how many people were going to come, especially because it's the first time," he said, giving credit for the idea to town administrator Barbara Aycock. "I can't say enough about the staff, they really worked hard. I'm hoping this is the start of a new tradition here."