A giant tradition

It was a celebration where Santa Claus himself made an appearance.

And there was Mrs. Claus, too, of course.

It was a celebration of the first day of the holiday season where, as Santa told everyone, the tree at the North Pole of the community would be lit.

And then when the tree was lit everyone was in awe. Children were mesmerized, adults were smiling and no one seemed to worry about anything in the world.

Colton McCann came to watch the tree lighting with his mom, Kara, and brother, Cashin, from Aliso Viejo. On their way to Costa Mesa, 5-year-old Colton couldn’t wait to see the “place where there’s a giant Christmas tree,” he said.

It was giant all right. It took a 200-ton crane to put the 96-foot white fir in place. And it took 20,000 lights to make it shine.

There were people who came from throughout Orange County, many with family and friends, to celebrate together.

And there were a grandma and a grandpa who came from India to visit family just in time for the holidays.

Meera and Shivram Kulkarni said this wasn’t their first time here around Christmas. And though they do not celebrate Christmas, they came to watch and be part of the festivities.

There was also Noll Gurwell and his wife, Karin Easter Gurwell, who knew almost all of the names to the Christmas carols that were sang by members of the Orange County High School of the Arts choir.

And now that the tree was lit, “may you have a merry, merry Christmas,” said Santa.

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