Thousands of people were gathered around the amphitheatre at Hesperia Civic Plaza Park, listening to children singing Christmas songs. The air was filled with the scents of hot chocolate and kettle corn. All that was missing was the guest of honor.


"We just heard he's leaving for here in a jet and should be here any moment," Hesperia Recreation and Park General Manager Cal Camara told the crowd at 5:14 p.m. on Thursday evening. The annual Christmas tree lighting is a joint event of the park district and city.


A sound of a jet boomed through the stereo speakers, seemingly moving through the crowd.


"Here he comes."


But not quite yet: Santa still had to take his annual ride to the Christmas tree lighting on the San Bernardino County Fire Department fire truck to the lighting.


For the second time ever, the 21st annual Christmas tree lighting was taking place at the civic park. In previous years, the annual event took place on the lawn of the Little Country Church at Main Street and C Avenue. Even though the crowds were gone this year, the Deodar Cedar was lit up at the same time as the main tree at Juniper Street and 8th Avenue.


As for the relatively new tree at Hesperia Civic Plaza Park, it's getting there.


"It's grown two or two and a half inches since last year," said Camara.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/HesperiaStar.