Annual Tree Lighting Delights Young and Old, Santa a Big Hit Again!
Once again, Santa Claus was the star attraction as the community pulled out all the stops Thursday night -- welcoming the holiday season to State College.
Hundreds of people jammed into South Allen Street which was closed off for the annual tree lighting ceremony.
The night got underway with a performance of a song from Scrooge, a musical that will be presented at the State Theatre beginning Dec. 13.
Members of the Scrooge cast appeared out of nowhere and instantly dazzled the crowd with their enthusiastic dancing and singing.
Mrs. Claus took to the stage for a reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, while dozens of spellbound youngsters listened to the classic story.
There were also performances by Broadway Show Kids, a group of young vocalists, followed by holiday music played by the State High Brass Quintet.
Everyone sang along with the Dan and Galla Musical Show, belting out Christmas classics including Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree.
And the crowd really got rockin' when Santa Claus arrived aboard a gleaming Alpha fire truck. Perched in a chair Old Saint Nick asked the kids at his feet, "Are you ready to start being good?" That elicited a chorus of excited yeses.
Children who brought food for the State College Food Bank or toys for Toys for Tots had their names thrown in a hat. One lucky seven-year-old girl named Margo was selected to help Santa light the Christmas tree that stands outside Penn State's main gate just across College Avenue.
After a countdown, the tree suddenly lit up the night sky and maybe, helped make everyone forget the night chill, at least for a moment.
Afterwards, kids lined up for a chance to sit in Santa's lap and tell him exactly what they want for Christmas.
"I told him I want an iPod." says eight-year-old Mayra Briggs, a student at Grays Woods Elementary School. Asked what she thought of Santa, Mayra didn't hesitate, "He's nice and warm!"
The event was sponsored by the Downtown State College Improvement District. George Arnold is the group's director. "It's letting everybody know the town's ready for Christmas," he says. "We want the downtown to be front of mind for the Christmas season -- shopping of course!"