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Rainfall ends in time for downtown tree lighting
Esmeralda Ayala ,6, asks Santa for computers for all the kids during the Christmas at the Center. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

The “Christmas at the Center” tree-lighting event went without a hitch on Thursday.
Even Mother Nature cooperated.
Steady rains during the afternoon had City of Manteca officials having a Plan B in place for this holiday tradition formerly called “The Manteca Community Tree Lighting.”
 It was renamed and overhauled this year to include the civic and senior centers while fostering a stronger sense of community, according to the City’s Recreation Supervisor Brandy Clark.
“Our Plan B was to have the tree-lighting indoors (at the Manteca Senior Center’s staging area),” she said. “We’ve always had the backup plan in place but, thankfully, we’ve never had to use it yet.”
Mayor Steve DeBrum and his wife Veronica were equally thankful. They served the “Christmas at the Center” hosts, helping out wherever needed.
At the tree lighting, DeBrum asked those gathered outdoors in the cool yet dry conditions in the 50s to remember the 14 people killed on the previous day at the mass shooting that took place in San Bernardino with a moment of silence.
Shortly after, the towering tree in front of the Civic Center glimmered with Christmas tree lights. Folks hovered around the tree to hang their homemade ornaments, including Annette Perry.
She brought along three such Christmas decors with the names of her nephew Diego Gama, 11, and nieces Haley Gama, 7, and Jayden Gama, 5.
“The last time I was here (for the tree lighting) was when Diego was 5,” Perry recalled.
From there, they went indoors to enjoy the flurry of activities at the Senior Center. “We have something going on in every room,” Clark said.
Families had a chance to get photos with Santa Claus, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, nosh on cookies and hot chocolate, enjoy live music, or spend time doing crafts for the holidays.
“Christmas at the Center” was made possible by the Manteca Senior Center, the Senior Advisory Committee, the Youth Advisory Committee, the City of Manteca, and the Manteca Parks and Recreation Department.
Special guests included Mike Anderson, representing the office of U.S. Congressman Jeff Denham, and state Assemblyman Ken Vogel.