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Girl-with-Inflatables_Pop MISSION — The City of Mission lit the Leo Peña Plazita Park with the help of hundreds of families to start the holiday season.

Emily Barker, a Winter Texan visitor from Minnesota, made her first trip to the annual tree lighting ceremony where the Veterans Memorial High School Mariachi, Veterans Memorial High School Choir, El Valle Cloggers, Mission Parks Folklorico Group and the McAllen Memorial Folklorico Group performed.

“It’s different to see a Christmas celebration with kids running around in short sleeve shirts and not scarves and mittens,” she said.

Dozens of children and their parents stood in line for a chance to win one of their first Christmas gifts of the year in the city’s Parks and Recreation Department raffle where about 30 bicyles were given away, along with other gifts.

Shortly before the official lighting by Mayor Pro Tem Leo Olivarez and Councilmember Ruben Plata, Santa Claus made his way into the park escorted by McGruff the Crime Dog and over a dozen children. Santa handed out candy bags and also visited with local children.

“I like to come with my family to meet Santa and look at the lights,” said 7-year-old Alex Leal as he stood in line to sign up for the raffle.

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