Newton Falls – It may not be Rockefeller Center, but on Saturday night Four Corners Park in Newton Falls was the brightest spot in town.
On a relatively warm night, residents and visitors were invited to officially welcome in December and the holiday season, and a crowd of over two hundred community members gathered around the beautiful tree that had been decorated last weekend to sing carols and help count down the moment when all the colorful bulbs would be lit. The event began with a brief parade leading from the fire station and proceeding down the two blocks to the park. Aside from the actual illumination, the highlight of the evening was Santa making his rounds through the assembled attendees. Though he left Rudolph and the other reindeer at the North Pole to rest up for their big night, Santa nevertheless arrived in style atop a fire truck as bright red as his iconic suit and sporting some extra-special red and white lights for the evening occasion.
Mayor Waddell, who is also the president-elect of the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association responsible for organizing the tree, opened the festivities by welcoming everyone to the event and then asking Lyle Bailey to join him on the platform. In past years, Mr. Bailey’s tree farm has generously donated the tree for the town, but he is closing up shop and retiring from the business. The association has been considering planting a tree in that spot permanently so that it may be decorated year after year and its natural greenery can be enjoyed throughout the other seasons as well. This year’s tree is that such tree, and Mr. Bailey also played a role in helping secure the new addition for the park. In recognition of his efforts over the years, Mayor Waddell presented Mr. Bailey with a proclamation thanking him for his service to Newton Falls.
The volunteers who braved the post-Thanksgiving cold to untangle the strings of lights, place each shiny ornament, and balance the glowing star on the tippy-top of the tree can be pleased with their efforts: As Santa and one of his elves passed out candy and holiday music played, comments from the crowd could be heard that this year’s tree is even more beautiful than last year’s, with some audience members exclaiming that it may even be the park’s “best tree EVER.” Before the night was done, several people took the opportunity to have their photo taken with family members or Santa himself in front of that “best tree ever” as a memento for years to come and went home with a bit more holiday cheer for 2012.