Christmas Tree lighting spotlights Quasquincentennial, more Port Arthur holiday fun set this week

Published 6:05 am Monday, December 11, 2023

The lighting of the downtown Christmas tree in Port Arthur holds special significance this year.

The Saturday night lighting was a culmination of the day’s festivities, which celebrated the Christmas season but also the 125th Quasquincentennial of Port Arthur.

The day was marked with a Holiday Downtown celebration that featured food, Santa and performances by local talents.

Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie stands with children during the city’s Christmas tree celebration. (Nikita Harris/Special to The News)

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Port Arthur citizens gathered around the tree before the lighting to sing Christmas carols.

The carols were sung under the direction of Mollyn Cole, fine arts supervisor of Port Arthur ISD.

Candy canes and cookies were distributed among the crowd, who eagerly anticipated the lighting of the tree.

After the countdown, the tree was lit, marking the 125th Christmas season for the City of Port Arthur.

Children regaled in delight as billowy, snow was released near the City Hall building. The unseasonal warmth of the Texas day was not a match for organizers of the event who managed to create a more wintery scene for the children to enjoy.

The surprise made the event all the more sentimental as it sparked camaraderie among the children and more cheer among the adults.

“Port Arthur has been beautiful all year long. The goal is to have consistent, continual growth of family activities in the city,” said Carolyn Thibodeaux, children’s librarian at the Port Arthur Public Library.

Local residents enjoy “snow” during Port Arthur’s Christmas celebration. (Nikita Harris/Special to The News)

Thibodeaux expressed the sentiments that embody what this season of joy is all about and that is to celebrate the light in this world.

Regardless of the hardships faced this year and the losses, one must persevere. Thibodeaux does this with her faith.

“Find the light to find the joy to celebrate!” said Thibodeaux.

The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Quasquincentennial Committee is credited for its efforts in making Holiday Downtown remarkable and memorable this year.

“I’m ecstatic about this turnout. The children were able to enjoy the event, we had great crowd participation, and it was at no cost to our citizens,” Mayor Bartie said. “All our citizens are like one big family!”

The annual Christmas tree lighting this year commemorated Port Arthur’s 125th year as a city, but the event showed a spirit of hope that is very much still alive and its citizens.

For more information about Port Arthur’s Quasquincentennial and upcoming events visit

There is more Christmas fun planned Wednesday when at 4 p.m. the CPKC Holiday Train visits the Port Arthur Seafarer’s Center.

— Written by Nikita Harris