La Verne kids light up holidays

Jocelyn Arceo
Arts Editor

The city of La Verne hosted their annual tree lighting ceremony in front of City Hall Tuesday night.

To a crowd of about 100 people, Mayor Don Kendrick gave an opening statement and wished the city a happy holiday season before asking two little girls, Emma and Maggie Elfman, to light the tree.

“I have asked two young girls to help me with this because they are much better at lighting the tree than I am,” Kendrick said. “I want to wish every one of you a merry Christmas, happy New Year and have a great holiday season.”

As part of opening statements, Kendrick introduced Wayne Hurley, chairman of the La Verne Chamber of Commerce, for a few words.

“On behalf of the Chamber of Commerce we want to thank everybody for being here and remind you to shop La Verne,” Hurley said. “Shop small whether it’s on Foothill or downtown. It’s really important. “We want to be small, we want to be known for that and it takes us supporting those small businesses to be successful, so thank you guys for being here.”

After the tree lighting the Bonita High School Chamber Singers performed four Christmas carols beginning with “O Christmas Tree” and ending with “Jingle Bells” as Santa Claus made his way out into the crowd of guests, greeting the children and families gathered around the tree.

“It was good to see everybody here come together to see this ceremony that we do,” Noah Veliz, senior chamber singers member, said. “When there are little kids here, they see us and want to be like us. We’re like a role model for them and if this keeps happening it’ll make for a better community, I think.”

As the line to take pictures with Santa grew, guests could see, hear and feel the excitement radiating off the small children who could not wait to give Santa their Christmas lists.

La Verne resident Rachelle Killackey has attended the ceremony for upwards of five years, and this year was no exception. With two young daughters in tow, she was able to grab a photo of them with Santa Claus to use as their annual Christmas photo.

“It’s a family tradition and we look forward to it every year,” Killackey said. “I think it’s good for the city to keep these traditions going, it’s not all about business but about giving back to the community and celebrating the spirit of the season.”

Killackey’s 10-year-old daughter, Becky, forgot her Christmas list at home but said she would instead be giving it to her “Elf on the Shelf” to give to Santa Claus for her.

“It’s a lot of fun and if people in La Verne can’t get to San Dimas or somewhere to have a celebration, they can come here,” Killackey said. “It’s really fun, you get to see people sing and you get to see Santa.”

The ceremony ended with families full of children gathered in a line to take pictures with Santa Claus as they began the start of their holiday season with a communal Christmas tree lighting.

Jocelyn Arceo can be reached at

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