“I’ve never been to the tree lighting and it seems like I’m in a Hallmark movie,” Orangeburg resident Sheila Tyson said.

“It’s putting me in the Christmas spirit,” she added.

The City of Orangeburg’s Parks and Recreation Department hosted the annual lighting of Memorial Plaza, Children’s Garden Christmas and Kids’ Walk on Sunday.

“The Christmas season has officially begun in the City of Orangeburg!” Mayor Michael Butler announced.

South Carolina State University Interim President Alexander Conyers and his wife, First Lady Agatha Conyers, led the crowd in a countdown.

The children in the crowd yelled out the numbers, “10, 9, 8, 7…”

The Conyers flipped switches, officially illuminating the city’s Christmas lights. Squeals and cheers of delight filled the plaza.

“We’re turning on millions of lights throughout the city!” Butler said.

Brad and Heather McDaniel brought their 17-month-old daughter, Hadley, to the event. Brad’s mother, Linda McDaniel, accompanied them.

“This is the first actual Christmas for Hadley to remember,” Heather McDaniel said.

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Brad McDaniel enjoyed the lights.

“I’m glad it’s not too cold,” he added.

The Washington siblings attended the event for the first time. They are Ty’Lasaia, 12; Martrell, 11 and Selina, 9.

Selina Washington would like to have a big dollhouse for Christmas.

Martrell Washington loved the Christmas lights and he’s hoping to get a cellphone for Christmas.

And Ty’Lasaia Washington said she enjoyed all of the decorations. She’s asking for an Apple iPhone and money for Christmas.

The Washington siblings are the great-grandchildren of Betty Baker.

“I just love Christmas,” Baker said.

“I love the lights, the decorations. It’s one of my favorite times,” she said.

Hatara Tyson said the atmosphere at the event was meaningful.

“I enjoy seeing people come together after COVID. It’s just great to be out,” she said.

Axl Porter said he enjoyed the lights. The 9-year-old is hoping to get a Sony PlayStation5 as a Christmas gift.

His grandmother, Sandra Jennings, said, “I try to come (to the lighting event) every year. I like the countdown to turn on all of the lights.”

The Rev. Dr. Eddie C. Williams, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, gave the invocation and soloist Steve Damron led the crowd in singing “Joy to the World.”

Santa and Mrs. Claus also visited as special guests.

At the conclusion of the event, the crowd enjoyed cups of hot chocolate.

The Children’s Garden Christmas drive-through is at the Edisto Memorial Gardens along Riverside Drive.

It includes over 60 animated light displays and there are 40 additional ones at the Kids’ Walk. Some are interactive.

The Children’s Garden Christmas is open seven days a week from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. until Jan. 1, 2022.

The Kids’ Walk is open seven days a week from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Admission is free to all.

Riverside Drive through Edisto Memorial Gardens will be limited to one-way traffic from the Lady Fountain on Russell Street to the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center daily from 5 to 10 p.m.

Contact the writer: mbrown@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD

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