Lilly McCabe and Hunter Prince raised the switch to light the Gulfport Harbor Lights on Wednesday in Jones Park.
The lights of the nineteen trees flashed and dazzled in bright green as sounds of Christmas made a joyous thunder to welcome the holiday season.
For the third time in the third year of the event, Make-a-Wish participated in the lighting of the trees.
"What's Christmas without kids being involved?" said Gulfport mayor Billy Hewes. "Make-a-Wish Foundation brings some attention to their mission on one of the most extraordinary Christmas displays we have in the south; certainly it's been recognized as number one in Mississippi.
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"We're just please to have them involved with us," said Hewes. "Everything is about our community, about a better quality of life, about making this place a fun experience for the kids."
McCabe and Prince followed the tradition that was started two seasons ago when an iced snowman was spotted on the 'Welcome to Gulfport' sign on the west end of Gulfport. Chris Vignes, Public Information Officer, City of Gulfport, photographed the snowman and put it on Facebook. He was contacted by a lady who told him the story of the boy who put the snowman on the sign, who happened to be battling leukemia. The boy was invited to light the Harbor lights in 2015, and the tradition continues.
Lilly, 8, shared a bright smile with Santa, Mrs. Claus and WLOX meteorologist Carrie Duncan as she was joined by her mother, Ashley McCabe, sister, Ava, brother, Cameron, and grandmother, Vickie Swan.
"We've really been blessed through Make-a-Wish," said Ashley McCabe. "They've allowed Lilly to have a couple of opportunities similar to this one, and it's just something that really brings joy to her during a very difficult time. Our family is very appreciative of the Make-a-Wish Foundation."
Prince danced and entertained as he waited to raise the lever. "We're here for the party," said Prince, who was joined by his father, Louis, and brother, Louis.
"He's been pretty good," said his father. "We're not going through chemo right now, but he's been through two years of it. It's been rough, and I know there's after effects, and he probably has some of them, but you really can't tell because he's really resilient.
"This is really cool," said Louis. "He's highly excited about this. He's definitely here for the party."