The Puddlegulch Community Christmas Tree lighting took place at the City Park Friday night soon after dusk. The event officially kicked off the weekend’s Possum Day festivities. The proceedings were introduced by Mayor John F. Townsend who welcomed the crowd and introduced Choir Director Claudette Tibbs and the Sowser Elementary School Choir who presented a selection of holiday melodies.
An hour and twenty-three minutes later, local celebrity Chuck Hassler had the honor of lighting the Official Puddlegulch Christmas Tree. Hassler made a short speech that included numerous quotes from his 1978 novel, Colt Hardcastle & The Persimmon Hill Posse before throwing the switch to ignite the tinsel festooned 30 foot tall aluminum tree.
The Puddlegulch volunteer fire department was near at hand for just such a contingency, recalling the 1999 tree lighting, and spirits were soon back on track for hot cocoa and cookies provided by the folks from the local chapter of Chocoholics Anonymous. Signed copies of Hassler’s novel were also available for purchase after the ceremony. The author says they make perfect “stocking stuffers”. In addition to being Puddlegulch’s celebrated author, Hassler teaches a Creative Writing course at South Mid-State College, Standing Rock Extension.
“The stoic sequoia or the hardy oak cannot fall without a mighty crash. So it was with Colt Hardcastle when he met with the most dastardly gang of outlaws in the Wild Wild West,” said Hassler, with little or no context or reason why. “Trees!” he was heard intoning heartily into the night air.
Those still remaining after the ceremony gathered together singing Christmas carols around the smoking husk of the majestic symbol of the season.
The tree lighting was just one of the many events in a busy weekend in Puddlegulch, including the Possum Cookoff, Boggle tournament, Civil War era reenactments, bake sales, classic car gatherings and more.