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The weather was cool and crisp last Thursday evening as the Colton community came together in the spirit of an old-fashioned, small town, holiday celebration.

PIONEER PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - Colton community members gathered last Thursday to light the town tree.The weather was cool and crisp last Thursday evening as the Colton community came together in the spirit of an old-fashioned, small town, holiday celebration. The outdoor tent was filled with children and adults who gathered for the annual Coltontel Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in the green space beside the telecom's technical offices.

Coltontel general manager, Geri Fraijo, welcomed everyone, members of Boy Scout troop #257 presented the colors and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Pastor Jack Shumate conferred the invocation and then the entertainment began.

The Colton Elementary School fifth-grade chorus, Colton High School band and jazz band under the direction of Bobby Rice performed holiday musical selections and the CHS choir under the direction of Alan Bruner sang several Christmas classics—all to much applause and toe tapping.

PIONEER PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - The fifth grade choir performs under the direction of Bobby Rice at the tree lighting Thursday.

Between musical numbers, names were drawn for the prizes that were awarded throughout the night. Any member of the cooperative phone company, who returned their postcard and dropped it into a collection box, was eligible. This year's prizes included a number of 32-inch and 49-inch flat screen TVs.

PIONEER PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - The CHS choir performed under the direction of Alan Bruner on Thursday at the tree lighting.

At the close of the entertainment everyone stepped outside the tent and with a count from 10 to one, the large, live Sequoia was lit all aglow with hundreds of lights. The lighting was greeted with oohs, aahs and a round of applause.

A concession tent offered hot chocolate, coffee, and enough Christmas cookies for Santa and all the revelers.

PIONEER PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - The CHS band played at the tree lighting last Thursday.

Children wishing to visit with Santa were directed to his "warm" location in the business office. The Santa area was decorated with a lit tree, 'fireplace', and a winter wonderland. The line to see Santa was long and filled with expectation as family by family stepped into Santa's office with their wish list. The tweens and teens were sharing time between the concession tent and visiting with friends; some even went to see Santa.

PIONEER PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - Sophia Fosmark (3 months) and her brother Elliot visit Santa at the tree lighting event.

One man, whose name I didn't catch, stopped retired Colton Elementary School teacher, Ruth Nimrod.

"Mrs. Nimrod, this is my family," he said. "Kids, this was my very favorite teacher."

"The tree lighting is a great event, a Christmas tradition," Tyson Reed said. "We wouldn't miss it."

This event is part of the answer to the age-old question, "Why do you live way out there?" Coltontel hosts a special night for us all to come together before the holidays, to celebrate the season, to visit with friends and to do what we all do best—have fun small-town style.

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