ZEPHYRHILLS — Florida Hospital Zephyrhills will present the 29th Annual Tree Lighting and Decorating Event from noon until 7 p.m. today.
The event features 53 Christmas trees: one for each of the 50 states, an international tree, a tree for the 12 provinces of Canada and a “Support Our Troops” tree. The trees will be decorated by local schools, civic organizations, clubs, businesses and local residents.
The hospital, 7050 Gall Blvd., will offer free cookies, punch or water, and other refreshments available for purchase during the event. While trees are being decorated, there will be live entertainment featuring a choir from Crossroads Pentecostal Church, the Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble and performances by the girls of Graham Music Studio’s Showstoppers from Dade City.
Santa Claus will make an appearance at 3 p.m., arriving in a vintage fire truck.
FHZ Community Relations Coordinator Brenda Welcher outlined several new features for the tree decorating portion of the event this year. The event will feature a children’s area where kids can get their faces painted and work on crafts.
Three times on the hour from 3 to 5 p.m., a live nativity scene will be formed as Joseph leads Mary, who will be riding a live donkey followed by sheep and other animals, from the base of a nearby hill to the manger at the top of the hill.
About 5 p.m., weather permitting, skydivers from Skydive City in Zephyrhills will present a skydiving demonstration, dropping in nearby with an American flag.
At 5:30 p.m., new FHZ President and CEO Randy Surber will open a free program, including a holiday concert on a stage at the foot of the hill. After the program, Zephyrhills Mayor Danny Burgess will begin the countdown for the lighting of the Christmas trees. After the tree lighting, the program will close with a fireworks display.