Annual parade, tree lighting spreads 'magic of Christmas'
BY FAITH HARPER
Crowds gathered downtown to get into the Christmas spirit as floats full of waving friends threw candy at eager children and marching bands played cheerful tunes of the season.
"It's the magic of Christmas, anything can happen," 34-year-old Amber Green, of Tyler, said.
Ms. Green donned a Christmas shirt and held a cup of hot chocolate in excitement of the day's festivities.
She came downtown for the Tyler Jaycees Christmas Parade with her 18-month-old daughter Addison, her boyfriend Richard Oller, 34, of Tyler, and his son, 7-year-old Daniel.
Daniel said he wanted to ask Santa for a trampoline with a safety net and a Nerf gun.
"At least he's not asking for a Red Ryder BB gun," his dad joked, quoting the famous 1983 "A Christmas Story" movie. "You'll shoot your eye out, kid.'"
Nearby, 4-year-old Harley Garner, of Chandler, was excited at the prospect of seeing Jolly ol' Saint Nick. Harley said she wanted Santa to bring her a bicycle with tassels on the handlebars but without a basket in front. She also wanted "a bunch of Doras."
As a fire truck turned the corner, she squealed "Santa's coming," while sitting on top the shoulders of her dad, 28-year-old Pete Garner, for a better view.
Bands played seasonal classics, and people and cars wrapped in garland and lights waved cheerfully at the crowd. At the end, the big man himself sat atop the last fire truck to the joy of the children, who waved at the Christmas icon.
After the parade, the city of Tyler had its 27th annual Christmas tree lighting at T.B. Butler Fountain Plaza.
The towering 28-foot Leyland Cypress was covered in 10,500 lights, a new record for the city.
Following musical entertainment by the East Texas Christian Jazz band and dances by the East Texas Jazz Band Artistic Dance Concepts, the tree was lit by a special little girl.
As per tradition, the tree was lit by a Children's Miracle Network miracle child.
This year, 1-year-old Daniela Guzzetta had the honors.
Daniela was born with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder in which an extra 21st chromosome causes delays in development and some physical side effects. She spent 19 days in the Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler.
Shortly after her release, she contracted viral meningitis and was readmitted to the hospital.
The miracle child sat in the lap of her mother, Carolina Guzzetta, on stage with the rest of her family. With the help her mother, father, Joe Guzzetta, and 2-year-old brother, Luca, she turned on the lights as the crowd counted down from five.
Joe Guzzetta said she took all the attention well.
"She's happy, easy to get along with," he said. "She was looking at the people ... no fuss whatsoever."