After a one-year hiatus, Whistle Stop Christmas returned to Hulen Park on Monday night with its annual lighting ceremony.
The Cleburne Chamber of Commerce’s annual event consisting of more than 1 million lights was downsized last year due to a lawsuit against the city and was instead conducted downtown at the Johnson County Courthouse and Market Square.
Officials, on the advice of attorneys representing the city, ordered the move in light of the lawsuit. The family of Jordan Diaz filed suit in the 413th District Court in August 2018 alleging negligence on the city’s part, who received a shock on July 1, 2018, at the park after he touched a city light pole while playing on the tennis court.
This year, lights were installed by Johnson County Jail trustys and Whistle Stop volunteers at the park and downtown.
Chamber Executive Vice President Tara Janszen thanked all the event’s sponsors for making this event possible, as well as thanking the city of Cleburne, Johnson County Jail, Cleburne fire and police departments and the Whistle Stop volunteer committee.
“These ladies and gentlemen have been for 23 years, I believe, part of Whistle Stop and why this event happens in Cleburne,” Janszen said. “It takes a lot of time, money and effort to make this event possible. So thank you to our volunteers, sponsors and partners and to our chamber team as well.”
Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain asked residents to keep Chamber President Cathy Marchel in their prayers as she battles cancer.
“She’s a big part of this,” Cain said about Marchel. “We also want to remember to pray for and remember our first responders and those in the military as we gather around our tables to give thanks.
“Then it’s Christmas season coming up. From my family to all of your family, I want to wish you a very merry Christmas this year.”
The Texas Tradition Chorus also performed several Christmas songs throughout the evening.