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Tree lighting, community celebration ring in the holidays

The tent under which the event was held. ADITYA BHATIA. (click for larger version)

Fred Blankenship, the host of the event. ADITYA BHATIA. (click for larger version)

Katherine Watson is one of the many who helped with the event. (click for larger version)

The Piney Grove Premiers perform. ADITYA BHATIA. (click for larger version)
December 11, 2012
CUMMING, Ga. – For the 24th year in a row, thousands turned out to listen to the music, see Santa, get their faces painted, eat cookies and kick-off the holiday season in Cumming.

But the main attraction at the annual holiday event at Northside Hospital-Forsyth has been the holiday tree lighting as part of the "Celebration of Lights."

The annual tree lighting event is also a time to remember those who struggle with cancer as well as raise awareness and funds for research.

On Dec. 1, fresh off the Cumming Christmas Parade, there was no shortage of entertainment, including local school choirs from Coal Mountain Elementary, Haw Creek Elementary, the Forsyth Central High Chamber Singers and the Piney Grove Premiers, who are the only competition choir in the county.

Also providing entertainment was the Sawnee Ballet Theater.

WSB-TV anchor Fred Blankenship, in his sixth year emceeing, said he still enjoyed it as much as he did the first time after he moved here from San Diego.

"This whole event is about care," Blankenship said. "We want to help everyone with cancer. That's one of my favorite parts of this event, helping."

Katherine Watson, spokeswoman for Northside, has been with the hospital for 14 years.

"All the money from the event goes to the Northside Cancer Institute to help us help all of our patients get better," Watson said. "My favorite part of the event is all the singing. We love seeing people come out to support us this time of year."

Visit, call 770-667-4483 or email to find out how to donate.

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