Crowd warms to tree lighting

Michael Tortorich
Many area youngsters had a chance to chat with Santa Claus Thursday night in the Gonzales Civic Center during the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting event.

Christmas comes to Gonzales early every year.

It was standing-room-only Thursday night in the Gonzales Civic Center as droves of people showed up to meet Santa Claus and rock the night away with Center Stage performers at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting.

Mayor Barney Arceneaux and several city council members welcomed the crowd to the traditional holiday season kick-off event.

The mayor said the tradition has been going strong over the years, and it seems to pick up a larger crowd every time it is held. He added that the city will continue to hold the event each year due to the overwhelming turnout.

The line of people waiting for a chance to sit on Santa’s lap and bend his ear to tip him off about their wishlist stretched around the back of the center and out the door. Gonzales police officers guided the crowd to Santa, who delivered presents to the children with the help of his elves.

Just after 6 p.m. Jambalaya Pageant organizer Fran Baker introduced this year’s Gonzales Jambalaya Queens, who welcomed the crowd.

The Center Stage performers followed with their festive show, titled “Holiday to Remember.”

Linda Schexnaydre introduced the musical theatre students, who performed several holiday-inspired numbers.

Visitors also were treated to jambalaya, hot chocolate and cookies.

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Rotary Club of Gonzales members Marcy LeBlanc, left, Johnny Berthelot, Morrie Bishop and others prepare turkey dinners Monday at the Council on Aging in Gonzales for the annual Senior Citizen Christmas Party.