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Tradition lights up the night in Mt. Pleasant

A holiday tradition for many years, the Mt. Pleasant Community Light-Up marks the beginning of the Christmas season for the borough, as it celebrates the official lighting of the area's only life-size Nativity scene.

Starting at 7 p.m. Sunday, area residents will witness an event that is a holiday favorite for many generations.

"This is something that both little kids and big kids look forward to every year," said Cindy Underwood, Mt. Pleasant Nativity Committee chairwoman.

Although parts of the program or the Nativity scene statues may have changed over the years, the event — a Mt. Pleasant tradition for more than 50 years — has remained the same and is something revered by many.

"I had a guy get in touch with me this year," Underwood said. "He used to help with the Nativity years ago when he was in high school. He moved away, but now he moved back to Pennsylvania and he called me to tell me that he is coming and bringing his children. He also said that now that he is back, he wants to help, and plans to volunteer with the Nativity scene next year."

To begin the night, Christmas carols, led by the choirs of St. Pius and Visitation churches, will be performed.

"After they are finished, Jerry (Lucia) will introduce me, then Father Rick (Kosisko) will bless the crib," Underwood said, adding that after the blessing, the Nativity will be lighted.

The event will then switch to the gazebo, where Santa will distribute treat bags to all the waiting children.

The Mt. Pleasant Catholic Church Youth Ministry creates the treat bags from donated items that Underwood gathers every year.

"Everything in the bags is donated," Underwood said, explaining that none of the funding collected is used for the treat bags. The funds are used for the Nativity.

The Nativity Committee sets out cans throughout the community for donations and is also supported by groups.

"We are supported by several churches, social clubs and Dr. Greg Wilson has also really become a big supporter over the last three years," Underwood said.

Underwood said she receives donations in the mail every year, too, and it is not unusual for them to be accompanied by a personal note or letter.

"I'll get letters in the mail every year with 20 or 25 dollars in them," Underwood said. "They will sometimes have little notes in them telling me thanks or telling me what an asset the Nativity is to the town."

Underwood has been chairwoman of the event for 16 years. She works with a small committee, but plans to continue the tradition as long as she can.

"I do this for the community, for the kids," Underwood said. "This is something that everyone looks forward to and it's an event that I really hold dear to my heart."

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