Tree-lighting ceremony has fantastic turnout

Posted 11/29/23

Okeechobee residents turned out in great number for the annual tree-lighting ceremony in City Hall Park.

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already have an account? Log in to continue. Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor

Tree-lighting ceremony has fantastic turnout


OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee residents turned out in great number for the annual tree-lighting ceremony in City Hall Park. An estimated 500-600 people mingled, talking to Mayor Dowling Watford, city council members, county commissioners and other elected officials.

An Okeechobee teen had the honor of standing on stage with the officials. Anaiah Silvas, 14, was the inspiration for the beautiful star on top of the tree. Six years ago, when the new tree went into the park, there was no star on top. According to Mayor Watford, there was nothing on top of the tree at all. He said there was no particular reason for this. It was just an oversight.

Anaiah, however, did notice there was something missing. Her father, Drew Silvas, said every day as they drove past the park, Anaih said, “Dad, there is no star. Why is there no star?” Anaiah, who was 8 at the time, said she just remembers thinking it was not right there was no star. She asked her parents what they could do about it, and they suggested she write a letter to the mayor. “So, that’s what I did,” said Anaiah.

Her family was skeptical that she would get a response, but soon after she sent the letter, they noticed a giant star was being installed on the tree.

That year, and every year since, Anaiah and her family have attended the tree lighting ceremony. This year, she was invited to come up on the stage and help light the tree.

This was the 25th tree-lighting ceremony held in the park, explained Mayor Watford. He added that there were more people in attendance this year than there have been in the last several years.

Elementary school children formed a choir and sang Christmas carols. Santa was escorted in by the Okeechobee City Police Department and took his place on stage, alongside the other officials. After the tree lighting, everyone was invited back to city hall to see the decorations, enjoy refreshments and visit with Santa.

city council