On a day in which high temperatures were forecast to approach 70 degrees, the city of Lansing celebrated the beginning of the winter holiday season Sunday with the lighting of the Mayor's Christmas Tree.
Regardless of the temperature, the Lansing Community Center was packed for the event, the 26th such observance in the city.
Pre-school students from A Deere Place and Lansing High School's Sound Spectrum choir performed holiday songs. Members of Katie's Dance Studio performed a routine.
And area scouts and civic organizations presented donations they have collected for the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund, which helps needy families in the community during the season. The city had set up three Angel Trees, containing tags with gift information for a Lansing family in need, at three locations throughout the city. Last year, at least 30 local families benefited from the program, according to one estimate.
It's because of the that spirit that Col. Timothy Wulff, the garrison commander for Fort Leavenworth, said so many military families choose Lansing as their permanent home.
“They love it because of the community,” he said.
Throughout the night, Mayor Ken Bernard also thanked those community groups that have long participated or helped in some way with the program. After 27 years in his position, Bernard will retire in January. He presented Jonnie Brice, the director of the Lansing High School Sound Spectrum, for bringing the choir each of the last 14 years.
Bernard also reflected on his own experience serving as master of ceremonies for the event. He said the cover of the program itself showed his son and grandson. At the time, he said his grandson was an infant. He's 26 years old now.
“Three generations I've been doing this and it's always joyful,” he said.