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Tree Lighting Ceremony Brings Song and Cheer

Hundreds gathered at the Civic Center with Santa Claus to welcome the holidays and promote health and wellness.


You would have thought Justin Bieber had arrived.

Because when arrived with Santa Claus on board to the at the Civic Center, kids began to shriek. Oh, the magic of Christmas!

"It kind of kicks the season off," said city resident Linda Gencarelli, who brought her 11-year-old granddaughter. "They have all the Christmas songs and they have Santa Claus."

The annual event on Monday, Dec. 5, featured choirs from around the city and the Peninsula. 's wind quintet and Madrigals kicked off the night and the Peninsula Youth Threatre's Dickens Carolers ended it. In between,  barbershop chorus, the Mountain View Academy Royal Aires, and Middle School and the all performed.

Mayor Jac Siegel–who served as the Master of Ceremonies with the assistance of sisters Julia and Deralyn–interviewed Santa about how the reindeer stayed fit in the off season and what health and wellness tips he had for boys and girls.

"You got to eat your fruits and vegetables before you eat your cookies," Santa said. "And try and stay active. That's the most important thing. Whether its soccer, baseball or football—get out there and play."

Councilwomen Laura Macias and Margaret Abe-Koga smiled as they looked at all the captivated and excited kids. Abe-Koga even shared that Santa "looks trimmer this year."

Despite all of the celebration, Alison Hopkins, director of volunteers at the , noted a drop in canned good donations this year. CSA has for several years used the community event as a vehicle to collect food.

"We usually get 1000 pounds every year," Hopkins said, from where she stood outside of , "and it's pretty much gone the next day."

This time they collected a little more than two crate fulls—far short of previous years. She reminded that "there is not only a need during the holidays, but also a need year round."

Perhaps the holiday season and the great singing by the local choirs will inspire more community building.

"We love to do it," said Douglas Knecht, the director of the Royal Aires for nine years, about their participation in the annual tradition. The choir has performed at the tree lighting for the past seven years. "We enjoy being part of our community."

The choir directors all shared a similar sentiment: the ceremony allowed the entire community to witness the hardwork of their blossoming singers.

"I think it's exciting that the community gets to hear them," said Leanne Rzepiella, the director of Crittenden's 18 person choir. "I think that's really exciting to them."

The youngest performers on Monday, the choir of Pinewood School Middle Campus in Los Altos Hill, may have stolen the show with their giggles and of course, their voices.

"It's fun for them," said Shane Troll, the director of the 45 children choir. "They put a lot of hardwork into this music and its great to go in front of other people besides their parents and show-off."

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