Tree lighting ceremony kicks off the holiday season

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Hundreds of Dallas residents gathered in Snider Plaza this afternoon for the 2014 University Park Holiday Tree Lighting. The event kicked off at 1 p.m. and featured live music, tasty treats, and entertainment for young children and families. The ceremony ended when a large Christmas tree in the heart of the plaza was lit up with thousands of tiny Christmas lights.Snider Plaza Christmas Tree

There were several types of entertainment throughout the afternoon. Various groups from the Dallas area preformed song and dance routines on a large stage in the middle of the plaza. Face painting booths, a balloon animal artist, and small amusement park rides kept children entertained. A holiday themed Peruna was available for family photos. Vendors sold food and drinks at booths lined up and down the plaza.Families line up for a ride at the ceremony

The event was presented by University Park Merchant’s Association and the Rotary Club of Park Cities.

A lively, cheerful vibe filled the plaza. Dallas stay-at-home mom Rachel Wall brought her husband and three kids to the event, and was pleased with her fun-filled afternoon.

“The atmosphere is very family friendly,” said Wall. “Our kids have loved all the treats and the rides, and the whole atmosphere has been really great.”Peruna sporting some festive attire

In the holiday spirit of giving, a new philanthropic element was added to the event. All funds raised from the ceremony benefit Phil Romano’s nonprofit “Hunger Busters” program, which provides meals for food-insecure children in Dallas.

“This year we decided to up the ante a little bit, and make it a true fundraiser,” said Tania Boughton, a member of the local Rotary Club behind the event. “That’s what rotary is all about: giving back to the community.”Rotary members pass out free refreshments to attendees

While most people were pleased with the day’s festivities, not all Dallas residents found holiday cheer in the tree lighting ceremony. SMU senior Morgan Winslow questioned whether the holiday season had arrived a little too early.

“Everyone knows that you don’t start celebrating Christmas ‘til after Thanksgiving,” he said. “Christmas is still over a month away. I think it’s a little early for tree lighting.”

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