WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Many people gathered at ECU Health Beaufort Hospital for their 37th annual Lights of Love tree lighting celebration on Monday.

“Lights of love actually started in 1985 by a group of really dedicated volunteers who wanted to find a way for people to be able to give to the hospital to help support projects at the hospital and also a way for people to be able to honor or memorialize a family or friend with a light on the tree,” said Pam Shadle, director of marketing and community outreach and development at ECU Health Beaufort Hospital.

Participants watched as Eastern Elementary School helped bring Christmas cheer through holiday songs while enjoying cookies and hot chocolate.

“The great thing about bringing in elementary school choir is they bring lots of family. I mean, I remember when my daughter was young, you know, it’s just, it’s fun,” said Shadle.

It wouldn’t be a holiday event without the big man himself. Kids anxiously waited in line to meet Santa.

The evening’s event concluded with the tree lighting. Each light on the tree symbolizes the donations that have been given to the hospital and through Lights of Love.

“It helps us improve community wellness, it helps us add some amenities for patients and their families. In the hundreds of 1000s of dollars that have been raised over these 37 years, it’s just tremendous. And then this night is just really special,” said Shadle.

Shadle added it was great to have the community and families together for the event in person again since the pandemic.