By Helena Rodriguez
It will begin to look and sound a lot like Christmas in Portales this evening with the official lighting of the Mayor’s Christmas tree at 5:30 p.m. at Portales City Hall.
The 16th annual Mayor’s Christmas Tree lights up just as Portales school children get out of school today for Thanksgiving break. Mayor Orlando Ortega is expected to preside over festivities.
“This is the official kickoff of the Christmas season in Portales,” said Veda Urioste, an administrative assistant at City Hall. “This comes before the Christmas Light Parade, which is on Dec. 12.”
The event will begin with outdoor Christmas caroling by the Portales High School choir and show choir, as well as by choirs from Lindsey Middle School, the Girl Scouts Service Units and the Baptist Children’s Home. Santa Claus will also make his first public appearance of the Christmas season at 6 p.m.
Festivities will then move inside to the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, which will be decorated with sugar plums and gingerbread houses made by the Portales High School Art Club, under the direction of Lou Sikes.
“The students wanted to do something sweet,” Sikes said. “The ornaments will look like real candy. They were thinking about sugar plums dancing in your head.”
Besides the sugar plums and gingerbread houses, the main focal point of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree will be the scrolls that hold the names of needy children in the community. Once again, residents are being asked to help sponsor a child this holiday season.
By taking a scroll off the tree which holds a child’s age and sex, the community is asked to purchase a toy and clothing item for these children and return them to City Hall by 3 p.m. on Dec. 8. Urioste said the gifts will then be sorted and delivered to the needy children by Dec. 15.
People who take scrolls off the tree should make sure the information is given to one of the cashiers at the water department so they can keep track of all the children being sponsored.
“Last year, there were no names left on the tree. We had 184 names and were able to help that many kids. This year we have 206 children,” Urioste said.
Urioste also pointed out that for people unable to do the shopping for a child on the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, some employees at City Hall will be glad to do the shopping for them. Interested parties can drop off the money and let the employees know what type of gifts they want purchased, Urioste said.