Back in person: tree and Santa

SANTA TAKES a toy request from an admirer at Monday’s Tree-Lighting Ceremony in the Westminster Civic Center (Tribune photos by Amir Ghani).

By Amir Ghani/Orange County Tribune

With red, green, and twinkling lights galore, Westminster surely decked the halls on Monday during its annual Tree Lighting ceremony.

The ceremony featured live music from multiple local artists, food trucks, and even a visit from Santa Claus himself. Residents and their families enjoyed the outdoor space at the Civic Center as Christmas classics swelled from the stage’s speakers.

THE HOLIDAY TREE, all lit up.

“We love that the tree lighting is back in person, my daughter is excited to meet Santa too,” said one Westminster mom, sipping hot cocoa.

The hot cocoa was served from none other than a redesigned SWAT truck with ‘SWAT Cocoa’ posted on the side of it. Local police officers helped to serve the drinks to chilly residents.

Before the lighting, residents secured their seats near the stage and conversed while children ran around playing. The line to meet Santa seemed neverending with kids from all over Westminster clamoring to tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

“I want a Nintendo Switch and a new bike,” said one boy, his father chuckling and shaking his head wholeheartedly.

Right as 6:30 p.m. came around, Vice Mayor Carlos Manzo took to the podium to welcome the crowd.

“After three years of virtual meeting, I’m so happy to see everyone here,” he said, “But where is our special guest?”

Suddenly, sirens erupted and a police escort appeared on the street, with Santa hanging out of the top of a SWAT van, waving to a cheering crowd. After reaching the stage he and Manzo thanked the audience again for coming, highlighting the importance of community.

Then, they counted down with the crowd and the tree was lit, changing colors and sparkling in the night sky. Cheers erupted throughout the group while others recorded on their phones.

Once the tree was lit, the local performers started to play, and residents returned to enjoying their food, hot cocoa, and time with families and friends.

Even a few years of lockdown couldn’t stop Westminster from spreading holiday cheer for all.

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