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Spirit of the Season: Residents show their unity with holiday event

By Staff | Dec 13, 2017

ERIC DEVAUX Santa brings smiles to children during Lehigh Acres Medical Center’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting with Santa.

Resilience and unity was the mood shared between the Lehigh Acres community on Dec. 9 during Lehigh Regional Medical Center’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting with Santa.

After the upheaval caused by Hurricane Irma, many residents came closer together as a community, which was evident at the holiday event. Visitors shared a moment of appreciation and calmness.

“I think Lehigh is a resilient community,” Gary Bell, chief executive officer with Lehigh Regional Medical Center, said. “I think it is bouncing back. Lehigh got hit in the teeth with that Hurricane Irma.”

Strangers, now turned friends, greeted one another, while children laughed and danced together.

“The community grew together,” Lehigh resident Melissa Berry said. “We’ve had a lot of people help with one another in a lot of different ways.”

ERIC DEVAUX Christmas tree lit up for the holiday season at Lehigh Regional Medical Center.

The free event featured a visit by Santa and tree lighting, with cookies, egg nog and hot chocolate.

Bruce Marshall, of Lehigh, was in attendance with his son, 2. His son was having a blast.

“He got a balloon. He saw Santa Clause, he saw the firefighters,” Marshall said. “He’s pretty awestruck.”

The festivities also spotlighted some local youth singing carols.

“(The event) showcases a lot of good youth,” Berry said. “It’s just something that brings the community together.”

ERIC DEVAUX Photo opportunity with Santa.

Bell emphasized that the hospital is available to the community in more ways than one.

“We really enjoy the Christmas season and we want to tell everybody in Lehigh a Merry Christmas this year,” he said.

ERIC DEVAUX Free cookies for the children.

ERIC DEVAUX DJ Stormtrooper brings music to the celebration.