HARLINGEN — Christmas joy spread through the crowd outside Valley Baptist Medical Center Tuesday night as the 19th Annual Lights For Life Ceremony ushered in the holiday season.
Families gathered, cups of hot chocolate in hand, under the Christmas tree, outside the hospital’s East Tower, where temperatures were in the 40s.
“The tree lighting really sets the mood and helps my family get in the Christmas spirit,” San Benito resident Daisy Villanueva said.
This year, the family of late mayor and retired Marine Corps Col. H. William “Bill” Card Jr. was invited to flip the switch to illuminate the tree.
Card died on July 17 at the age of 88.
James Eastham, Valley Baptist Health System CEO, said Card was a man of God and a friend to all, adding that not only did Card serve his country, but his community as well.
The Card family thanked everyone for attending and said that the long-time mayor loved the community dearly.
They invited the children in the audience to help with the tree lighting and as soon as the tree was lit, the Harlingen High School South Choir began the Christmas caroling.
“It’s a joy to get everyone in the Christmas spirit,” 17-year-old Savana Fletcher said.
After the ceremony, Santa Claus himself rolled up in Texas style, greeting onlookers from an illuminated John Deere tractor.
The festivities continued indoors with more caroling from the St. Anthony’s School Choir.
Judy Quisenberry, Director of Valley Baptist Foundation, said that the Lights For Life Ceremony is more than a simple lighting of a tree. It’s a symbolic way to remember those that have passed away and honor those to whom we are close.