Community unites for park lighting ceremony

Stephanie Filson Managing Editor

November 28, 2013

GALLIPOLIS —Despite very cold weather Wednesday evening, there wasn’t a parking place to be found near the Gallipolis City Park as the community gathered to light Christmas decorations during the Park Lighting Ceremony — many of which were constructed by community members under the direction of the fledgling Gallipolis In Lights committee over the course of the past couple of months.

The committee, under the direction of Shari Rocchi and Lance Clifford, set out earlier this year to pool community resources and labor to brighten the Gallipolis area with colorfully lit Christmas ‘balls’ to be hung in the trees of the park. … and the result is enchanting. The lighting project is expected to grow for the next four years.

State Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) served as the guest speaker for the event, and Addaville Elementary student Kennedy Shamblin accompanied Smith in flipping the switch after the community countdown. Shamblin, daughter of Bray and Amanda Shamblin, won the Youth ‘Turn on the Lights’ contest after being drawn from more than 90 Gallia County entries.

Shamblin told the hundreds in attendance that she wanted to be the one to flip the switch because of her love for Jesus.

“I love Jesus, and Jesus is the light of God, and Christmas is all about Jesus,” said the Addaville first grader.

In the spirit of the season, a food drive was held leading up to the event, and each item donated equaled a chance for a Gallipolis In Lights T-shirt.

Also, a table was set up during the event where residents could sign Christmas cards for military troops.

Before and after the lighting ceremony, several groups performed holiday music selections, and hot chocolate and cookies were served on site.

Finally, dozens of children lined up in front of a freshly renovated Santa’s house to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.