Community enjoys first CCCC tree lighting, Santa visit

12-11-2012
College & Community, Foundation, Special Events

SANFORD - Children were wide-eyed in anticipation as Santa Claus visited Central Carolina Community College's Lee County Campus Thursday evening.

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College and community members and lots of children gathered for the college's first Christmas Tree Lighting and Santa Visit as dusk fell, watching for him. Finally, music by members of the Southern Lee High School Marching Band, under director Matt Miller, heralded his arrival and the band escorted Santa onto the plaza at the campus.

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With Santa on hand, the festivities got underway. The crowd counted down and the 18-foot Christmas tree, decorated with white lights and a blue bow, burst into light, greeted by happy exclamations from the children. Then they gathered around Julian Philpott, chair of the college's board of trustees, as he read "T'was the Night Before Christmas."

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The highlight of the event for the youngsters was meeting Santa and having their pictures taken with him. They eagerly lined up to do so, with parents encouraging them to meet this special visitor from the North Pole.

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Charlee Cougar, the college's mascot, was on hand to add a lot of jollity to the occasion with his antics. Many children and families also had their pictures taken with him.

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"I'm having a good time," said young Alex Ascencion, of Sanford, who wasn't too sure he wanted his picture taken with Charlee, but then was glad he did. "This is fun. Charlee looks scary, but he's nice."

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The crowd filled the college's plaza as the evening progressed, enjoying hot chocolate prepared by CCCC Chef Gregg Hamm's Cafe 21 and cookies made by student inmates in the college's program at the Harnett Correctional Institution. After their visit with Santa, each child received a wooden ornament created by HCI carpentry students to take home for their own tree.

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"I brought my kids to see Santa," said Lanee Benitez, of Sanford. "This is their first time this year. I think the college's event was a great idea; I'm glad they did it."

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The event was planned and coordinated by the CCCC Foundation and a number of college volunteers. The Student Government Association provided the tree.

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"We are very pleased with the turnout," said CCCC President Bud Marchant. "It's a wonderful event and I think we've got a new tradition."

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After the tree lighting/Santa visit, everyone was invited to the campus' Classroom and Fitness Center gymnasium where the Cougars took on William Peace University. It was a enthusiastic school spirit ending to a great evening, with the Cougars winning, 65-57, the team's first win over a four-year institution's varsity team.

Community enjoys first CCCC tree lighting, Santa visit

Charlee Cougar welcomes all visitors to Central Carolina Community College's Christmas Tree Lighting/Santa Visit Thursday evening at the college's Lee County Campus. Pictured with Charlee are (from left) Teresa Kelly, executive director of Christians United Outreach Center; Megan Swindell, an eighth grader at Grace Christian School; and Kaylee McBride, a seventh grader at East Lee Middle School. Visitors enjoyed an early evening of fun with Charlee, Santa, members of the Southern Lee High School Marching Band, and a reading of 'T'was the Night Before Christmas.' The evening concluded with the Cougars-William Peace University basketball game, where the Cougars triumphed 65-57, the team's first win over a four-year institution's varsity team.

Community enjoys first CCCC tree lighting, Santa visit

Children listen with anticipation as Central Carolina Community College Board of Trustees Chair Julian Philpott (left) entertains with a reading of 'T'was the Night Before Christmas' at the college's Christmas Tree Lighting/Santa Visit Dec. 6 at the Lee County Campus. Children and families had their pictures taken with Santa Claus and Charlee Cougar, enjoyed music by members of the Southern Lee High School Marching Band, watched the tree lighting, enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate, and took home a wooden tree ornament.

Community enjoys first CCCC tree lighting, Santa visit

Lighting the Christmas tree was an important part of Central Carolina Community College's festive Christmas Tree Lighting/Santa Visit Dec. 6 at the college's Lee County Campus. Brian Merritt (left), the college's dean of Student Learning, was part of the crowd that gathered for the event. Children and families had their pictures taken with Santa Claus and Charlee Cougar, enjoyed music by members of the Southern Lee High School Marching Band, watched the tree lighting, enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate, and took home a wooden tree ornament.

Community enjoys first CCCC tree lighting, Santa visit

Rosa Cerna's family, of Sanford, was among the many who had their pictures taken with Santa at Central Carolina Community College's Christmas Tree Lighting/Santa Visit Thursday at the college's Lee County Campus. During the event, visitors enjoyed music by members of the Southern Lee High School Marching Band, watched the tree lighting, listened to a reading of 'T'was the Night Before Christmas,' enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate, and received a wooden tree ornament for their home tree.

Community enjoys first CCCC tree lighting, Santa visit

Members of Southern Lee High School's Marching Band, under the direction of Matt Miller, entertained at Central Carolina Community College's Christmas Tree Lighting/Santa Visit Thursday at the college's Lee County Campus. Children and families also had their pictures taken with Santa Claus and Charlee Cougar, watched the tree lighting, enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate, and took home a wooden tree ornament.

Community enjoys first CCCC tree lighting, Santa visit

Children were eager to have their picture taken with Santa during Central Carolina Community College's Christmas Tree Lighting/Santa Visit Dec. 6 at the Lee County Campus. That is, except for nine-month-old Sophia Black, who wanted nothing to do with the jolly old elf. At the festive event, children and families had their pictures taken with Santa Claus and Charlee Cougar, enjoyed music by members of the Southern Lee High School Marching Band, watched the tree lighting, listened to a reading of 'T'was the Night Before Christmas,' enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate, and took home a wooden tree ornament.