Hawthorne is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Toys in every store, trees lining E Street; and Veterans Memorial Park and the vast evergreen across the street are drenched in lights.

Children play in the snow at Veterans Memeorial Park. In the background the community Christmas tree, lit for the first time in several years, can be seen. (C.W. Wilkinson photo)

Hawthorne is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Toys in every store, trees lining E Street; and Veterans Memorial Park and the vast evergreen across the street are drenched in lights.

Yuletide joy is being brought to Hawthorne in all quarters by dozens of people, but in the most public spaces the Lions Club is leading the charge.

“We decided we were going to bring the Christmas spirit in Hawthorne because it’s been kind of like ‘Bah Humbug,’ […] in the previous years.” said Agnes Dockrey, president of the Hawthorne Lions Club “So the Lions Club decided to put up Christmas lights at the veteran’s park.”

The green garland and red, white, and blue lights appeared at the park around Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t until Dec. 6 that the community Christmas tree in front of McDonald’s sprang to life for the first time in several years, twinkling with white lights that cast a warm glow on the snow below.

A handful of people braved the cold to watch the tree lighting, and enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and friendship. Enormous speakers blared the dulcet tones of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” as people milled about and children dashed around, tossing snowballs at one another and clambered up and down the anti-aircraft gun.

Dockrey said the lights and garland were strung by “the school teachers and their students,” with the help of Lions Club members and Lt. Col. Craig Short, commander of the Hawthorne Army Depot, and his friends and family.

“We wanted to involve everyone in the community, not just the Lions,” Dockrey said.

But the Lions decoration isn’t limited to the park.

The club also sponsored the small trees down E Street, to help make things more festive, Dockrey said. The club provided the trees and some members of the community decorated and planted them.

“We couldn’t afford to buy all [living] Christmas trees for the pots, so we decided to do plastic instead, just to save a little bit of money,” Dockrey said.

Dockrey said the club decorated the town to bring the excitement of Christmas to the community.

“When I travel though, sometimes, in small towns I can see the Christmas spirit in a little town,” she said. “And why can’t we get together and do this and make it festive, and make it happy?”

Dockrey also said the Lions club was once one of the most powerful organizations in the state, but after years of declining membership, the club has refocused on community service.

“I think it’s a positive influence in the community,” she said. “We’re known for eyeglasses, so we provide that to unfortunate adults and kids.”