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Yankees throw holiday concerts for children across Tampa Bay

Long-time host and retired news anchor John Wilson passed the torch this year to a new emcee, his son Mark Wilson.
Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia, who played 19 seasons before injuries ended his career this fall, greets children attending the Yankees holiday concert at the Straz Center in Tampa on Thursday. Sabathia was joined by his wife Amber, right. [New York Yankees]

TAMPA — An annual tradition established more than 30 years ago by late New York Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner III continued this week with free holiday concerts for some 6,400 children in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

Steinbrenner started the concerts to give at-risk and underprivileged children a chance to visit a Broadway-style theater to watch a classical concert, holiday dancers and performers. More than 100,000 children have watched the Steinbrenner Children’s Holiday Concert during the past 31 years, the Yankees said in a news release.

Thaddeus Bullard Sr., who wrestles professionally as Titus O'Neil, takes the stage Wednesday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg during the annual Steinbrenner Family Children's Holiday Concert. Concerts also were held this week in Tampa and Clearwater. [New York Yankees]

The Florida Orchestra performed. Among those attending this year were members of the Yankees team. For the first time, the Yankees swapped in a new host — Fox 13 news anchor Mark Wilson, son of retired news anchor John Wilson and his wife Mary K. Wilson, who had hosted the event since its beginning.

The concerts were staged Tuesday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater; Wednesday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg; and Thursday at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. Students attending were in the fifth through seventh grades.

In addition, the Yankees threw a holiday party Monday for children of military service members at Tinker Elementary School on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.