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Posted: 12/05/12

Above, Washington Township Supervisor Dan O'Leary is making a speech before giving Santa the first ever key to the township during the tree lighting event Friday, Nov. 30. Below top, Scarlett Hitchcock of Rochester Hills getting her gifts after sitting on Santa's lap during the tree lighting event. Below bottom, Baffling Bill The Magician getting lots of audience participation during the tree lighting event.

(Observer photos by Karen Ranoni)

Plenty of holiday cheer at
Washington tree lighting

Observer Special Writer
      Hundreds of local residents showed up on Friday night to welcome Santa during a tree lighting ceremony at the Washington Township Municipal Building.
       Santa arrived at the event in a fire department truck with lights flashing and sirens wailing. The event became an honor for him as Washington Township Supervisor Dan O'Leary and R-W-B Parks and Recreation Director Clara Russell handed him the key to the township.
       "This is the only person who has ever received a key to the township, and who better to be the first than Santa Claus himself," said Russell.
       Fun and holiday spirit continued as the event moved indoors where township residents and friends from surrounding areas walked into a well planned and perfectly executed holiday wonderland sponsored by the Washington Twp. Lions Club, SERVE (Students Enriching Romeo Through Volunteer Experience) and Washington Twp. Fire Department, along with Parks and Rec.
       A magic show was hosted by Baffling Bill The Magician, whose act included a live rabbit in a hat, Magic Wiggly Fish and lots of crowd participation.
       Santa also drew a crowd of eager children waiting to sit on his lap and reveal all their Christmas wishes, after which each child was given toys and coloring books provided by The Lions Club.
       High school students were on hand to give out Christmas themed Frisbee's for each child to color on. Jo-Ann Thom, Washington Twp. resident and six-year member of the Lions Club, handed out cider and hotdogs while other volunteers handed out cookies and treats.
       "Every year the turnout is big for this event, it is becoming a tradition to our residents to participate in this event year after year," said Joyce Oliver, Parks and Rec special event co-coordinator.
       "We love to come to these community events, it's nice that we live in an area that offers these things and you can see how happy it makes all the kids," said Rosalyn Redlawski, a 55-year resident of Bruce Twp.
       Parks and Rec co-sponsors four tree lighting ceremonies between November and December, which includes the newly added Thanks For Giving event in Bruce Township, yet each event has proved successful and unique.
       "It's the residents who turn out and support us year after year, the credit goes to the people who live in our community," said Russell.

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