Outlets to hold annual tree lighting

Published 6:54 pm Sunday, November 12, 2017

By Gabrielle Terrett

The Vicksburg Post

Santa, Christmas carols and the lighting of the city’s largest Christmas tree marks the official start of the Christmas season in Vicksburg.

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The Outlets at Vicksburg will host its 13th annual tree lighting Saturday at 6 p.m.

The event will start with Santa giving the signal to light the tree and then the tree will be illuminated with bright Christmas lights and covered from top to bottom in oversize ornaments that fit the tree just right.

“Santa comes out and gives the command and I usually get to flip the switch that controls the lights,” said Jerry Chambers, general manager of the Outlets at Vicksburg. “That’s pretty much all there is to lighting the tree and it takes about one and a half weeks to decorate.

“It has been going on since the mall has been open and I think that ‘s been just about 20 years at the most,” said Chambers. “At the least, it’s been going on for 10 years since Craig Realty took over.”

Each year, the tree lighting attracts a larger group than the last and this year should be no different, Chambers said. More than 200 people generally come out from all over to watch the lighting, the performers and just have a great time while surrounded by great people.

“The tree lighting brings people in from Warren, Issaquena and Sharkey counties and even some people from Natchez,” Chambers said.  “The children get to see Santa and the parents get to watch their kids perform. It really brings in extra tourism for the city.”

It isn’t much of a surprise so many people come out to view the lighting of the large tree. After all, much time, energy, effort and preparation go into decorating the humongous tree, not only for the event, but for the city as well.

“The tree is the tallest in the city and I think in the state as well,” said Chambers. “It takes up to two weeks to set up the frames, attach the tree limbs and place the decorations on the tree. After that, it’s just a matter of making sure all of the lights work.”

According to Chambers, four to five volunteers set aside time to dress the 50-foot tree over the two-week project.

The next step in preparing for the tree lighting is to make sure the entertainment is lined up.

In the past, the tree lighting has had groups such as the local elementary school choirs, high school choirs and other local talent to help with opening up the Christmas season and this year is no different.

“We’re going to have a jazz band perform, I’m not so sure of the name yet,” said Chambers. “But we’re working on getting some of the local choirs out to the lighting as well.”

The event is open to all ages and is sure to get everyone excited about the Christmas season.

The music, the tree and even jolly old Saint Nick are sure to prepare everyone for the holidays, but the main attraction of the night will be the people.

Many people come out each year to meet old friends and distant family.

Others come to make new friends and experience the friendly atmosphere of Vicksburg, Chamber said.

The tree lighting entails much more than making memories and finding old friends.

With Christmas coming soon, it marks the beginning of Christmas shopping as well.

“The tree lighting symbolizes the opening of the holiday season and store sales,” said Chambers.

Santa will be in attendance taking gift requests from good boys and girls, so adults don’t forget the cameras.

“Children get to see Santa and the whole community comes out,” said Chambers.

“They get to sit and talk with Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas.”

With Santa in attendance taking gift requests, singers on stage singing Christmas carols, and most of the town in the audience gazing in awe at the city’s tree, this event will be one of the main events to put the town into the Christmas spirit.

“The tree lighting is a great way to kick off the Christmas holiday,” Chambers said.