Tradition with a Mission: The West Pullman Christmas Tree Lighting
In the fall of 2015 at a monthly West Pullman Community Action Group meeting, Shirley Holden proposed a beautiful idea: “Let’s host a neighborhood tree lighting ceremony!” and just a few short months later, the first ever West Pullman Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony took place. That evening, Ms. Holden vowed to guests, “When we’re long gone, our children will continue this tradition.” On December 5th, 2016, the community took its first step toward ensuring her promise comes true by holding the Second Annual West Pullman Christmas Tree Lighting. And what an event it was!
Much like the previous year’s ceremony, it certainly was a night to remember. Overflowing with festivities, fun, families, and food, it was a joyous celebration and represented the profound, and too often untold, good that is happening in the West Pullman community.
Local leaders from within West Pullman - Father Honeratus of Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Sergeant Hightower of the Chicago Police Department, and motivational speaker Lauren Ward - began the celebration by reminding attendees of many important truths: the beauty of peace, the power of goodwill, and the fact that we all have the ability to invoke the change we want to see happen in our shared community.
The St. Anthony’s Children’s Cultural Dance Troup performed, warming the hearts of those in attendance, despite the bitter cold of the Chicago winter outdoors.
Santa Claus (the real one, we swear!) then arrived. His first action, of course, was to check in with the children to learn if they had been good this last year and what presents their hearts most desire. After making his list and checking it twice, he gathered the audience outside and led them in a countdown culminating in the lighting of the three Christmas trees.
Following the lighting, a dinner hand-prepared by so many of the gathered community members was served. Indeed, it is not lost on us that so many aspects of this event, including the countdown to the tree lighting and the dinner itself, were symbolic of the happenings of the West Pullman community: many unique components coming together to create a whole bigger than the sum of its parts.
Indeed, the night represented what so many residents of West Pullman have been doing for years: coming together to create a community that will embody and spread peace and goodwill. If you missed the event, don’t worry: it’s annual! Just make sure you pencil next year’s ceremony into your calendar.