Oakley's annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony didn't put the winter's rain on hold Saturday. But like the good little Whos down in Whoville, Oakley residents gathered at O'Hara Park Middle School to celebrate with a candy cane hunt for children and musical performances by the East County Flute Choir and the Oakley Elementary School District Children's Choir.
"This is a huge turnout based on what I expected with the weather," said Chamber Board Member Steve Nosanchuk.
The Lions Club held a canned food drive and eyeglass recycling drop-off, while the Oakley Chamber provided free hot chocolate, hot cider and cookies.
The crowd also enjoyed a performance of karate kicks, chops and moves by Oakley American Karate before fire truck sirens sounded the long-awaited arrival of Santa. After lighting the tree, the Jolly Old Elf took a seat undercover from the rain to share gift wishes with the children.
"This is a great opportunity for families to come together," said Oakley Councilman Kevin Romick. Referring to the city's hometown appeal, he added, "This is just a small part of it."
"The kids really like it when Santa comes on the fire truck," said Kathy Morgan, a 13-year Oakley resident who never misses the event.
"I enjoy the tree lighting every year, whether it rains or shines. I think that every year the chamber does better and better."
The Oakley Chamber shared a special thank-you to Sal Cutino for decorating the tree with the help of community volunteers, Delta Lions Club, Delta YMCA, the Oakley Union School District, East County Flute Choir, Boy Scouts and Christmas committee members Steven Nosanchuk, Keith Nance, Mike Ito, Sal Cutino and Carma Dutra.