LINCOLNTON, N.C. – With the tree in place since November 20 the anticipation grew for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting on the Lincoln County Court House lawn. The scene at night with all the lights has become one of the most photographed scenes during the Holiday Season.
This year’s tree was donated by Marvin and Jack Hoover who dedicated it in memory of their father and mother, Clarence and Jimmie Hoover. The Hoover brothers will be recognized at the first Lincolnton City Council meeting in December for their donation.
There were some anxious moments about having a tree this year as Assistant Public Works Director for Lincolnton, Rob Buff, could not find one that was tall enough. The Lincoln Herald ran an article about the situation, shared it on Facebook and asked our Facebook friends to share the article about the need for tree.
With the magic of the internet a Lincoln Herald reader that works with the Crouse Community History and Photo Project saw the article and sent out an email to the group’s list of over 100 people. One of them was Marvin Hoover. He saw the email, knew where a tree was and contacted Rob Buff. The tree Hoover suggested wasn’t quite tall enough but his brother, Jack Hoover, suggested a tree in front of the Hoover homeplace near Union School. Buff looked at the tree and agreed.
With the help of a lot of elves the tree made its way to town and now it has been lit for all to enjoy this Christmas Season.
The annual tree lighting was held Sunday, November 29 after the Christmas Parade in Lincolnton. There was a welcome by Mayor John Gilleland, and an invocation by Rev. Dr. Stanley Spence of First Baptist Church of Lincolnton. There were many singers, dancers, and speakers before the tree lighting including the Kiser Intermediate School Chorus, Larhonda Carlton (Lincoln Idol winner), the Gold Hill Missionary Liturgy/Dance Team, Winter Fantasy, Quinlyn Rader, and a preview of “The Nutcracker” by some of the ballet dancers.
Barbara Dudley, President of the Pilot Club, made a brief presentation from the Pilot Club and then led the countdown to the lighting of the tree, after which there was a Community Sing-A-Long with Anna, Elsa and Star Struck Dance Studio.
The Community Christmas Tree has been sponsored since 1941 by the Lincoln County Pilot Club marking this year as its 74th (If you notice there is a sign on the lawn next to the tree). Dating back to 1959 the Christmas Tree Lighting began as a fundraising project for the Alda Ramsey Harvey Scholarship program. In the early years, the club raised funds for the scholarship, named for its charter member, by "selling" lights on the tree. Contribution of $1 were requested to light one light or $5 to light a light in the star at the top of the tree. The lights in the early days were not all white, but multi-colored, and they were turned on from the bottom of the tree upward as the contributions came in and the Holiday Season progressed.
Now letters are sent out to contributors from previous years asking for contributions. Sometimes they have to have other events in addition to the tree to raise money for the scholarship. Dudley remembers when her mother, Evelyn Coffey, Clarice Sigmon and other Pilot Club members were able to raise enough to fund as many as four scholarships in a year. Many high school students in Lincoln County have been grateful for the scholarship they have received from the club.
Contributions are, of course, still accepted from anyone who would like to help. You can send your check to Pilot Tree Lights, 1893 St. Marks Church Road, Crouse, NC 28033.
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