Love Lights ignite Christmas on the River 2012

Under a full moon a record crowd of some 300 turned out Wednesday night to begin the 2012 Christmas on the River at the 23rdannual Love Lights Tree Lighting Ceremony.

The Love Light Tree sits atop Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital in Demopolis.

Sponsored by the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the ceremony included the lighting of the Love Lights Tree by the 2012 Special Child Windham Thomson Lee, Jr.

Funds earned from selling love lights in honor or in memory of family and friends are pooled with other fundraisers. The money is used by the Auxiliary to provide scholarships for area students who are pursuing degrees in healthcare, purchase much needed equipment for the hospital and pay for other programs that benefit patients, said Rebecca Culpepper, president.

Just this year, she continued, six scholarships totaling $9,000 were awarded and more than $17,500 has been spent on purchases for the hospital.

Love Lights committee member Carolyn Bell said some $1,750 already has been raised through the sale of the lights. Alice Boggs, in charge of the corporate wreaths, said another $4,300 in donations has come in.  Sale of both the Love Lights and wreaths will continue until Christmas, they said.

Chilly temperatures didn’t cool the enthusiasm of the crowd as six-year-old Windham lighted the tree atop the hospital. Even a patient attached to an IV pump looked on.

Children from the First United Methodist Church sang carols, and the hospital treated everyone to refreshments after the ceremony.

Also taking part in the ceremony were the Rev. J.D. Barnes, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church and an Auxiliary member; John Scales, chairman of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; Mike Marshall, administrator of the hospital, and Linde McAdams, chairman of the Special Child committee.