Shelton residents gathered at Veterans Memorial Park on Dec. 2 to celebrate the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. The event was sponsored by Celebrate Shelton, which was started in\u00a02014 by small business owners Michael Skrtic of The Glass Source, Nicole Heriot-Mikula\u00a0of bringtheHoopla, and Jimmy Tickey. During the cold night, parents bundled their babies, while small children made tree\u00a0ornaments, ran around playing, or danced to Christmas music. Fran Scarpa of Center Stage Theatre sang Christmas songs to the crowd that waited for the tree lighting. Warm cocoa and cookies were sold by teens from the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley. Shaye Rosco, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, also attended the event. \u201cI think it\u2019s an incredible community event, and I love when the community can get together and\u00a0celebrate something,\u201d Rosco said. \u201cNicole and Mike have done an extraordinary job doing that,\u00a0and this is the third year in a row, and we\u2019re so happy to be a part of it.\u201d Shelton residents Aaron Jager and his wife, Diane, brought their 8-month-old son, Zachary\u00a0and Diane\u2019s parents, Severino and Fatima DeSosa, who are visiting from Portugal, to the event. Diane said it was the first year she and her family attended the Christmas event at the park. She\u00a0said it was beautiful, and she was having a good time. Her husband became a little emotional\u00a0discussing his love of Christmas and commented on the night. \u201cI think it\u2019s awesome and great that families can come out here and celebrate with children, because Christmas is a time to come together, and families should be happy,\u201d Jager said. \u201cIt\u2019s\u00a0big for me. I love Christmas \u2014 it\u2019s one of my favorite holidays.\u201d Mayor Mark Lauretti spoke to the crowd about the holiday event and Celebrate Shelton and then proceeded to the countdown to the tree lighting. Children then placed their ornaments on the tree. The real excitement began when Santa arrived on a fire truck. Santa walked down the park\u2019s pathway to greet the children. The children approached Santa as if he was a rock star, hugging him and applauding his arrival. When he was seated, parents took children over to talk to him and pose for pictures. Heriot-Mikula gave candy canes to the children waiting to talk to Santa while her brother, Jimmy Tickey, greeted parents. \u201cIt was a wonderful turnout, and we had Santa come with the help of our fire department, who\u00a0came on a fire truck,\u201d Tickey said. \u201cIt was just a wonderful evening, with Christmas carols and\u00a0families here taking photos with Santa.\u201d Heriot-Mikula commented on why they enjoy planning the event. \u201cI was born in Shelton, as was Michael Skrtic and Jimmy Tickey, my brother,\u201d Heriot-Mikula\u00a0said. \u201cWe\u2019re so thrilled to give back to the community. We love it. This is what the season is all about. It really is the reason for the season \u2014 being together, being with the community, and enjoying time together.\u201d Skrtic said he, too, was excited about the night because so many people attended the event \u2014 around 150 people, he estimated. He said Celebrate Shelton was completing its third year\u00a0of events, but the Christmas tree lighting held a special place among the planned events. \u201cAll of our events are to give back to the community and build upon that, but this is our true give-back that\u2019s free to the public that we just love putting on every year, and we look forward to\u00a0it,\u201d Skrtic said.