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20131206 MISSION Christmas-tree-lighting JS IMG 4580Temperatures dipped down to the 40s Friday evening, adding to the holiday atmosphere as Mission city leaders and families held the annual tree lighting ceremony at Leo Peña Placita Park.

Children bundled up, many wrapped in blankets on top of warm jackets, waited in line to see Santa. Adults warmed their hands on coffee and hot chocolate, and enjoyed performances by the Juan Diego Academy Liturgical Society, Veterans Memorial High School folklorico and more.

“I didn’t get a reindeer, but I got a reindog,” said Father Roy Snipes, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, as he took the microphone to offer a prayer before the ceremony. Bandito, Snipes’ dog often at his side in public events, wore a Santa outfit.

“It’s a Christmassy night in the old neighborhood,” Snipes said.

In prayer, Snipes said the tree is “a sign, an expression, a reminder of our love for life and for You, the Lord of our lives.” He noted that Christ was born with hands on the manger of wood, grew up as a carpenter, working with wood, and died on the wood of the cross.

Mayor Beto Salinas had the honor of calling out the countdown to hit the lights for the tree and the rest of the park, reminding residents to thank God for the blessings the city has received over the previous year.

Meanwhile, families lined up to see Santa and allow children to make their Christmas wishes. Kayla Villalobos, 8, wanted a doll, and her older brother, 10-year-old Daniel Villalobos wanted a phone. Mom wasn’t sure if Santa would come through with Daniel’s request because Santa “puts the bill on me after that.”

Parents also were unsure that 6-year-old Zulay would get her desired pony, but the mom of Heather Flores, 7, said she’d been very good and seemed on board with Flores’ request for an iPod.

After receiving a Nintendo 3DS last year, 6-year-old Mikey Contreras planned to ask Santa for a monster truck Friday. His older brother, Derek Contreras, 9, (whose mom said he ‘sometimes’ behaves) said he wanted a tablet.

And Abraham Altamirano, 10, had a pretty extensive list that included an iPad, phone, basketball, football and baseball player.

Last year, 9-year-old Luis Mojica received Legos from Santa, but this year he had his eye on a bigger prize: a bike … and a sock monkey.

“It’s a sock, but it’s a monkey,” he explained.

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