A new Christmas tradition is kicking off at Manteca City Hall on Thursday.
While the community tree lighting ceremony has long been a staple for Manteca families, an overhauled event – now known as “Christmas at the Center” – aims to breathe new life into something intended to bring residents together and foster a strong sense of community during the holiday season.
“This is kind of the start of the Christmas season here in our town – it’s the same week as the Christmas Parade – and it gives people a chance to come together,” City of Manteca Recreation Supervisor Brandy Clark said. “This year we’ve had a lot of involvement from the Mayor and his wife Veronica, and everybody thought it would make for a good event where people could interact with staff in a fun environment.”
According to Clark, uniting the two events under a common name and adding new features was something that she had wanted to do for some time. When she began working with DeBrum she discovered that the boy shared many of the same outlooks.
Together they worked with DeBrum’s wife Veronica and the Manteca Senior Advisory Commission to plan the event – which takes place on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall – to become a truly family friendly event that they hope will cater to future generations.
“He was really open to new ideas and he let me take this thing and run with it,” Clark said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
As per tradition, families are encouraged to arrive at the community tree, located in front of the Civic Center at 1001 W. Center Street, with their handmade ornaments to place either before or after the lighting, which takes place at 6:30 p.m. Immediately following, at 7 p.m., families are encouraged to arrive at the Manteca Senior Center – located at 295 Cherry Lane – for free children’s games, face-painting, craft stations, story time and local entertainment. Cookies and hot chocolate will also be provided, and photos with Santa, food and a cookie-decorating station will be available for a fee.
The event will be hosted by Steve and Veronica DeBrum and is being supported by the Manteca Senior Center, the Senior Advisory Committee, the Youth Advisory Commission, the City of Manteca and the Manteca Parks and Recreation Department.