Lights up in Goldsboro
By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on November 25, 2009 1:46 PM
Mayor Al King, right, flips the switch to turn on the Goldsboro Christmas Tree, left, while Geoff Hulse finishes the countdown.
Carver Heights Elementary student Lisa Urban sings a solo during one of the Christmas songs performed at the downtown tree lighting Tuesday night. The ceremony officially opens the holiday season downtown.
It now officially looks like Christmas in downtown Goldsboro.
More than 1,500 people gathered Tuesday night for the annual holiday lighting ceremony.
"Snow" flurries drifted through the chilly air as Mayor Al King counted down to the big moment and then, with the flip of a switch, all of Center Street sparkled with twinkling lights.
The downtown revelers were welcomed by a chorus of third- and fourth-graders from Carver Heights Elementary School, who sang carols as the party kicked off with free hot chocolate and visits from Scooby Doo, the Gingerbread Man and Blue from Blue's Clues. Even the Grinch from Dr. Seuss' famous holiday story came out to help trim the trees, wandering through the crowd and joining the carolers.
Sheri and Dominick Pietrangelo and their son, Nico, 2, were part of a line for the downtown trolley rides that stretched down Center Street and around the corner of the City Hall annex. It was the second year the family had come out to celebrate the season at the lights-up ceremony, and Nico enjoyed seeing the big countdown, Mrs. Pietrangelo said.
"This year we actually got to catch them. Last year, we were coming up the street just as they turned on, so this year, we were here and in place. He loved it, he was like 'Ahh!'" she said.
But Nico's new blue light saber toy was more interesting to him than the big draft horses and their shiny harness bells.
"Daddy decided to get him that tonight. Our little glow stick didn't count, I guess," Mrs. Pietrangelo said, as Nico challenged a low-hanging plant to a duel.
Lori Jones and her three daughters, Meredith, 9, and Colleen, 8, and Sarah, 4, were also waiting in line, but a little more patiently.
"We're having fun so far!" Meredith said.
The special celebration is an annual part of their Christmas tradition, Mrs. Jones said.
"We've been the last several years. Our favorite part is the trolley rides," she said.
They always enjoy pointing out the lights on the big water tower, too, which also were switched on at the ceremony.
"The girls call the water tower 'the crown,' and we watch that all season. No matter where we are on the highway here in Goldsboro, 'Where's the crown?' 'There it is!'" she said.
The girls hadn't quite decided what they wanted to ask Santa Claus for this year.
"Everything they see," Mrs. Jones joked.
The man in the big red suit himself was on hand for photos and to listen to Christmas wishes. Martha Bryan's granddaughter Rachel, 5, couldn't wait to whisper a few secrets in the jolly old elf's ear. Friends Stella, 5, and Wyatt, 7, were in town visiting grandmother Linda Chitty, too, and Wyatt had already prepared for Christmas Eve by making some special reindeer dust for Santa's reindeer.
"Everybody's waiting for Santa," Mrs. Chitty said.