By Kathryn Stocks

There’s a new seasonal event coming to Centennial this month and everyone’s invited! It’s the “1st Annual Community Tree Lighting Party” and it will be held at the Port Union Community Centre on Friday, December 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Local realtors Jodi and Alan Gear are organizing this evening for the community and they’re hoping to do it for years to come. “It’s going to be an annual thing, for sure,” Alan said. “And hopefully it improves each year.”

Alan and Jodi live and work in Centennial and their children go to school at Charlottetown. They love this community and are enthusiastic about giving back.

They will be lighting up the big fir tree and some of the smaller ones in front of the Port Union C.C. around 8 p.m. Before the tree lighting, volunteers from the Port Union Seniors will be giving out hot chocolate inside the community centre, while students hand out candy canes. There will be cookie decorating for the kids organized by 4SweetCookies. “We did a cookie decorating contest in April at Easter and it was very successful,” Jodi said. “It was so much fun she wants to do it again.”

A disc jockey will be playing Christmas music and there will be a photo booth for kids to have their picture taken with Santa. There will also be a Christmas basket raffle and a colouring contest with prizes. People are asked to bring a non-perishable food item or new unwrapped toy to the event. The food will be donated to a food bank and the toys will go to the police toy drive.

“This is about giving back to the community, being involved, getting some of the kids involved, getting the police involved,” Alan said.

Jodi and Alan have many ideas for events in the spring and summer as well. Alan grew up in Scarborough and had many men donate so many hours coaching him for soccer, hockey and football. “It’s payback time,” he said. “We can’t make a big dent across the province but we can make a little dent to make this a nice tight-knit community.”

Alan has spent some time getting to know the teens who frequent the Centennial Plaza where he and Jodi have their realty business. “We’re hoping to do a basketball contest in the spring where the kids will shoot against each other and then at the end they’ll shoot off against a couple of police officers for prize money,” he said. He wants to let teens know that adults and police aren’t the enemy.

Alan and Jodi dream that the community gets involved in this new Christmas event and that over the years they get 500 to 600 people coming out. “We want it to be something that kids and families enjoy,” Alan said. “I’m sure it will grow.”