The 22nd annual Christmas Tree Lighting event took place today (Sunday) starting at 1 p.m., on the corner of Essendene Avenue and West Railway Road in Abbotsford.
Members from Landmark Realty handed out free popcorn, while the Abbotsford Heat mascot, Hawkey, walked the downtown street, delighting children by posing for pictures.
The Abbotsford Food bank had its booth set up, with organizer Cliff Prang, excited about the non-profit’s first time at the community event.
Sandwiched between the historic buildings of Abbbotsford’s downtown core, the street started to fill with people early.
With Santa’s arrival on a 1963 fire truck, green-clad elves hopped about the streets, their bells jingling from their hats.
Members from the Abbotsford Fire and Rescue, the Abbotsford Police Department and the Silver Fox Air Cadet band, joined the bearded man, up to his red tent.
The line up of children eager to see the big jolly fellow only continued to grow throughout the afternoon, despite the chilly weather.
Local vendors continued to display their crafts, jewelery and food items, during the evening, while big acts took the stage, including musicians from the Sound of Music school, Aeriel the Elephant, from Aeriel Dance Academy, Brook Harris and others from the Darcy D Vocal Studio, and performers from Dynamic Dance.
Singer Gloria Ellis, 15, dressed fittingly in a red coat, sang “Santa Baby,” causing others to sing along.
Other performers from A & D Music and the Darcy D Vocal Studio, sang renditions of classic Christmas carols in addition to mainstream hits.
Even mayor-elect Bruce Banman sang some Christmas carols with members from A & D School of Music, before the countdown issued.
“Anyone that knows me, knows I like to sing,” Banman said, adding that he thought the event was magical this time, even though he has attended with his grandchildren in previous years.
“It’s amazing to see how much community spirit there is.”
With dusk approaching, the Abbotsford crowd grew more anxious to see the city’s 80-foot Christmas tree lit.
The crowds that gathered previously stayed to watch the spectacle, despite the delay.
Dave Lopez, a sound technician with A & D Music, stated that the set up of the main stage was postponed due to a late delivery, but added that the time difference would allow attendees to get a better view of the tree lighting.
With the tree situated just beside Santa’s Lane, the children in line looked upward as the pine branches became illuminated by the blue and white strings of lights, with a five-point star topping the peak.