Tree lighting marks start of holiday season in Scarborough

Six-year-old Raquel Romero loves to sing and dance.

So when she got to perform at the Scarborough Civic Centre’s tree-lighting event Dec. 1, she was all smiles.

Raquel, dressed for the occasion in a red dress and reindeer ears, sang several popular Christmas songs along with three other children and their instructor, Jacqueline John. Theirs was one of several performances at the event, a community celebration to kick off the holidays.

The event is usually an annual one, but it didn’t take place last year because the Civic Centre needed space for an H1N1 vaccine clinic.

“We’re definitely happy to have [the tree lighting] back again,” said Derek Trenchard, Civic Centre events coordinator. “It’s always a great event to kick off the season.”

Raquel’s mom, Carmen Romero, was at the event to watch her daughter perform. So were Raquel’s grandmother, great-aunt and a neighbour.

“It feels very special to see her up there,” Romero said. “Anything she does, to me it’s great.”

Scarborough councillors Mike Del Grande, Gary Crawford and Michael Thompson were among the crowd taking in the show. Thompson said he’s glad the event was reinstated this year because of the joy it brings.

“I think these types of events are really important to the community,” he said. “It celebrates community, and you see talented young people and leaders who bring out the best in them. And tonight was well attended — it’s a great way to kick off the Christmas season.”

The Agincourt Collegiate jazz band, Scarborough youth choir TC3 and singer John also performed at the tree lighting.

Children were treated to free hot chocolate and cookies, craft tables and a visit from Santa.

The tree-lighting event is just one scheduled stop for the TC3 choir, which tours both nationally and internationally. The children, who range in age from 7 to 17, were led by Rev. Denise Gillard and performed renditions of several holiday classics, including “Deck The Halls”.

“My favourite part about performing is seeing the kids shine,” Gillard said. “Every child in TC3 is talented, but it takes a lot to stand before strangers and really let loose. When I see it happen, it makes it all worth it.”