By Jessica Bruha
The Moore American
MOORE — An elementary choir sang, a fleet of golf carts decked out in Christmas gear lined pathways, a 30-foot Christmas tree was lit up and holiday cheer was in the air.
Those are just some of the things attendees of the J.D. McCarty Center enjoyed Monday night at 2002 E. Robinson St. during the 22nd Annual Christmas Lighting Party.
The J.D. McCarty Center is a pediatric rehabilitation center that focuses on children with developmental disabilities. It is the only one of its kind in the state helping children from birth up until the age of 21.
“The light party has been a tradition of beginning the Christmas season,” said Greg Gaston, marketing director of J.D. McCarty Center.
The ceremony has become a tradition to kick-off the Christmas season for the east side of Norman drawing hundreds of people every year. Gaston said it started off small with just staff and in-patients at the hospital but has grown exponentially over the years.
It began when the center was located off of 12th Ave north of Alameda St and has since moved over to the new center located off of Robinson St. Now the ceremony not only involves staff and in-patients, but also families of staff, in-patients, out-patients and members of the community who all join in on the festivities.
For those involved with the center, Gaston said it is an event that helps bring everyone together. In 2004, they added the golf cart parade which helps staff and the children be more involved and have more participation. Decorating and displaying their float creations every year is a big part of that.
“From the very beginning it’s been amazing,” Gaston said of the floats. “They’ve been immensely creative.”
This year the theme for the parade was “Famous Christmas Characters”. It featured floats such as Rudolf, Frosty the Snowman and of course everyone’s favorite -- Santa Claus.
Children clapped, cheered and waved Monday when Santa brought up the rear of the golf cart parade. The commissioners, who are the governing board of the McCarty Center judged the contest for the best float.