The annual Hospice tree was lit for the 23rd time on Thursday evening with the memories of past family members fresh in the minds of a crowd of more than 100 onlookers outside Doctors Hospital.
The Patnaude family of French Camp was given the honor of switching the lights on in memory of a daughter they had lost in the summer of 2013. Susan Patnaude thanked Hospice staffers for their being able to keep their daughter at home amid the love of family members rather than having her die in a hospital setting. She spoke at length and told of returning to medicine and caring for special needs children. Dad Bruce joined the group that included sisters Amanda, Andea and Amelia as they crowed around the switch and jointly turned on the power.
The East Union High School choir directed by Bekka Austin sang yuletide selections for a crowd that stood on the darkened corner of Cottage Avenue and North Street waiting to see the lights come to life on the tree.
The gathering was welcomed by Scott Beattie of the Hospice of San Joaquin Board of Directors. Nicolas Tejeda, CEO of Doctors Hospital, thanked Hospice for its service to the community and hosted a reception for the community members in the audience in the conference center of the hospital.
Tejeda also presented a check for $600 to Hospice on behalf of the hospital.