Hunter Politte will be at the heart of two beloved Claremore traditions-one tried-and-true, and one new this Christmas season.

This week Claremore City Manager Jim Thomas announced that he invited 9-year old Hunter to do the honors of lighting the 53-foot Christmas tree that is the centerpiece of West Bend Winterland, the Christmas festival new to Claremore this year.

“Last Sunday my wife, Cathy, and I were watering the tree. She found this Christmas rock, it said Merry Christmas on one side, and 918 Rocks on the other,” Thomas said. “My wife gets on Facebook and tracks this whole thing down and finds Hunter Politte, a little boy that is 9 years old, that is blind due to cancer, and this whole 918 Rocks was started by him and he now has 9,000 followers.”

Thomas reached out to Politte's parents and invited him to be a part of the celebration.

“I felt like the spirit of Christmas as felt by a child is what this tree is all about,” Thomas said. “He was very excited about pulling the lever and lighting the tree. is what Christmas is all about. It's about this young man's adversity and that he just keeps pushing through. Even though he won't be able to see the lights themselves, he will feel the spirit of Christmas there Monday night.”

Hunter's response to the invitation? Like a kid at Christmas.

“He jumped up and down and squealed there in the hallway at school,” said Hunter's mom, Kimberly Politte.

She said Christmas is Hunter's favorite time of the year.

“He loves it. He loves everything about it,” she said. “We go look at Christmas lights and describe everything to him and he just loves it. He is so excited to be part of this.”

The tree lighting will be Monday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. at the West Bend Green area located outside the Claremore Expo Center.

West Bend Winterland features an ice skating rink, pictures with Santa, reindeer, shopping from local artisans, caroling and more. Winterland will be open to the public Thursdays through Sundays (excluding Christmas Eve) Dec. 9 through Dec. 31.

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