BRAWLEY — “Everybody ready?” Mayor Pro-tem Helen Noriega asked the children gathered in front of the softly lit kiosk at North Plaza Park on a chilly Friday evening.
In unison, the children counted down, “three, two, one,” and the Christmas tree came to life illuminating the children and their parents as they cheered and clapped their hands with the signaling of the promise of more to come.
Noriega, who emceed the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, told the lively audience that elementary school students from Brawley would provide the entertainment.
Jennifer Boquist, a transitional kindergartner teacher at Myron D. Witter Elementary School, led her 25 students, ages four to five, up the stairs to take their places at the Kiwanis Kiosk.
Boquist led the brightly dressed children in singing a number of Christmas songs in chilly mid-fifty temperature. Playing their tambourines, they sang “Jingle Bells” with gusto. Parents immediately powered up their cell phones and squeezed their way in front of the stairs to take photos and videos of their children. The lit cell phones added even more lights to a festive occasion in the middle of the crowd.
Next were 30 kindergartner singers from Phil D. Swing Elementary School led by transitional kindergartner teacher Frances Nuńez. They sang two songs, “It Must Be Santa” and “Feliz Navidad.”
Nuńez said of her singers, “I’m just really excited. It just really makes me happy to see their happy faces and their excitement. So, it is a pleasure doing this.”
When asked what he wishes from Santa Claus, six-year-old Hector Lugo simply said, “Dinosaur.” His elder sister, Rosamaria, 8, said she wanted a bicycle.
One mother and her two children almost missed Santa Claus.
Sandra Reyes was driving along Main Street on her way home after she got off from work at a restaurant in El Centro when she noticed a crowd at the North Plaza Park. She immediately went home to fetch her two children. They barely made it, but still had time to have their photos taken with Santa Claus.
When asked what she wanted from Santa Claus, Reyes’ five-year-old daughter said, “Nam nam,” which is a kind of toy. Her brother, Alexander, 2, said, “Batman.” Reyes said Alexander’s birthday is on Christmas Day, December 25.
“Every year we turn on the Christmas tree for the kids,” said Noriega. “We have Santa here, taking their order of what they want for Christmas. We have Christmas music. We have the community out here. We give out hot chocolate and cookies from our sponsors.”
Noriega said that the names of the sponsors are displayed on the lit Christmas tree.
“I want to thank the whole community for helping us this evening and every year bring out the Christmas spirit. And God is with us,” Noriega said.