Snellville's tree lighting ceremony set for Monday

SNELLVILLE -- Once cut because of budget constraints, Snellville's annual tree lighting ceremony is back on.

The city will celebrate the arrival of Santa Claus and ring in the holiday season with a ceremony scheduled for

7 p.m. Monday.

Due to the down economy, money for the 28th annual event was cut, along with all of the city's other special events this year, with the exception of Snellville Days.

But Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer and other council members sought private donations and sponsorships to cover the more than $2,000 in costs.

"This annual city tree lighting ceremony presents a simple concept: a great new beginning to a hopeful new year," newly elected Councilman Mike Sabbagh said. "I am looking forward to a successful City Council aiming to move Snellville forward."

With a theme of "I'll be home for Christmas," former Councilwoman Deborah Rich will return to the job of mistress of ceremonies after several years away from the program. Music will be performed by Jackie O. Ginn, Britt Elementary School's fourth- and fifth-grade chorus, Snellville Middle School's sixth-grade chorus, South Gwinnett High's marching band and choir, Snellville First Baptist's children and adult choirs and St. Oliver Plunkett Catholic Church's ladies quartet.

Children can visit Santa, a picture packages will be available for a fee, and the Snellville Keenager Club will host refreshments inside City Hall, a press release said.

The city will also host opportunities for people to give back, either by bringing a small, unwrapped toy or monetary donation for Toys for Tots or participating in a canned food drive for the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry.

City officials said they were grateful for the support of the sponsors to make this year's event possible. The sponsors include Walton EMC,

Snellville Downtown Development Authority, Summit Chase Country Club, Deborah and Harry Rich, United Community Bank, Georgia Property Restoration, Odd Job Bob, Beck Law Firm, Rotary Club of Gwinnett Sunrise, Akil A. Patel, D.D.S., P.C., and Niko's Corner.