Carolighting celebration is back on

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Just days after it was canceled, the Governor's Carolighting celebration is back on.

Despite Wednesday's balmy weather, there are hints of the approaching holiday season near the north side of the State House. In less than three weeks, it now appears South Carolinians will gather there for the 2010 version of the Governor's Carolighting event.

Organizers short on volunteers had announced cancellation of the ceremony which includes the lighting of the state Christmas tree. The news was disappointing news for Joan Kishline and her friends. "That kind of saddened me. I think that it's a tradition and it should continue as best as anybody can pull it together," said Kishline.

A group of Midlands political leaders including Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, Lexington County Rep. Kenny Bingham and Representative-elect Rick Quinn joined together Tuesday after learning the organizers had canceled the annual Midlands tradition.

"We fight pretty hard during the political season and during the elections," said Representative-elect Rick Quinn. "But I mean this is something that kind of overrides that kind of sentiment. And we're very excited about working together for it."

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin says the effort now underway shows why he's so focused on regional cooperation. "If any of us are going to move forward, all of us are going to have to move forward together," said Benjamin. "And the importance of not spending our time and resources going in ten different directions on important issues like this, having all ten of us working together in the same direction and make a wonderful special event happen for this greater midlands community is significant and symbolic."

"If we can work together to get the little things done, not that the Carolighting is a little thing but in the big scheme of things it is," said Kishline. "You should be able to work together to get the big things done too."

Quinn said the ceremony will take place November 28 on the State House grounds as originally planned, but will be somewhat scaled back in comparison to years past because of the short time they have to plan it.

Quinn said the City of Columbia and the University of South Carolina will partner with the Optimist Club to plan the event. The details of the celebration have not been finalized, but are expected to be worked out soon.

For future Carolighting events, a committee will be formed to help ensure the celebration takes place.

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