Upham's Corner Online

Kroc Center Celebrates First Tree Lighting

Posted: December 1, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

A large crowd of enthusiastic Kroc Center members and guests attended the first Tree Lighting event at the Salvation Army's Kroc Center in Upham's Corner.  The program had a typical Army feel with trumpet and tuba accompaniment and the crowd participating in song and cheer.

Kroc Center Tree Lighting and Red Kettle Kickoff

For the Salvation Army while the tree lighting is an important symbol of the Christmas season, the real symbol of charity is their red kettle and its ever-ringing bell. 

The evening's program was like a traditional Lessons & Carols service with well-known Christmas carols interspersed into the message of the season - the birth of Christ and the need for everyone to donate to the kettle.

View Tree Lighting Program

Major Ervin McKoy led the start of the program from up high on the stairs, looking down on the crowd - his adhoc but effective pulpit.  After a welcoming and a couple of carols, everyone's focus moved downstairs. 


Kroc Center Tree Lighting and Red Kettle Kickoff
Kroc Center Tree Lighting and Red Kettle Kickoff
Kroc Center Tree Lighting and Red Kettle Kickoff Kroc Center Tree Lighting and Red Kettle Kickoff

A bright and shining Kroc Center cherub joined the major at the brilliant red kettle set up for the Red Kettle Kickoff portion of the program downstairs.  The cherub had the distinguished honor of ringing the first kettle bell of the season.

With the kids pressing in around him, the Major asked who would be the first to donate to the kettle.  While the kids all jostled and struggled to find change, a strikingy beautiful elderly woman quietly walked up and opened the season of giving. 

Proceeds have been promised to stay within the community.

Kroc Center Tree Lighting and Red Kettle Kickoff Kroc Center Tree Lighting and Red Kettle Kickoff

The Tree Lighting ceremony took place in the Village Center where Major Wendy Kountz told a "children's story" about the origins of the candy cane - a simple message which she encouraged the kids to tell to their friends.  The "J" shape, she said, symbolizes Jesus. 

"But," she added, "the story does not end there.  To the candy maker's surprise, when he turned the candy cane upside down, he found it had formed the staff belonging to the Shepherd."

That story was just enough to frame the quiet moment where kids were able to watch and listen.  Major Kountz invited them to participate. 

So starting at the ten (10) of the countdown - and loudly shouted by the kids themselves - to the blastoff of zero (0), the tree magically transformed  itself from green and beautifully decorated to sparkling and complete. 

And that was that - oh, except for the cookies and punch available to all.

Kroc Center Tree Lighting and Red Kettle Kickoff Kroc Center Tree Lighting and Red Kettle Kickoff Kroc Center Tree Lighting and Red Kettle Kickoff


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