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COSTA MESA : South Coast Plaza Erects Giant Tree

South Coast Plaza continued its tradition of erecting a huge Christmas tree for the holiday season during an elaborate ceremony Monday evening in Town Center Park.

But the ceremony broke with a longtime family tradition when children unrelated to South Coast Plaza founder C.J. Segerstrom lighted the evergreen.

Five children of local Marines who served in the Persian Gulf were invited to light the tree this year, responding to President Bush’s request to make the holiday season a thanks to the Gulf War veterans and their families, a South Coast Plaza spokesman said.

The 80-foot tree, installed in South Coast Plaza Town Center Park between the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel and the Imperial Bank Tower, is Orange County’s largest Christmas tree, the spokesman said.

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