NORTH SALEM, N.Y. At North Salems Saturday evening tree lighting ceremony Santa Claus ditched his reindeer and sleigh for a red fire engine. About 100 neighbors gathered in Joe Bohrdrum Park to await Santas local debut. Supervisor Warren Lucas was there and so was State Senator Greg Ball.
A choir of eight teenage girls, led by Alexa Salvato, performed for the crowd while everyone waited. They sang Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, The Little Drummer Boy, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Baby, Its Cold Outside, Jingle Bell Rock and Here Comes Santa Claus.
Meanwhile, the Lions Club provided hot chocolate to the waiting crowd. A few neighborhood dogs scampered about. The Toys for Tots box filled up. Kevin Hordern, one of the events organizers, said, My ex-wife used to coordinate this. Shes gone, so I took over. Some things have to remain.
Children were lined up between two rows of giant candy canes when Santa finally swept in atop his shiny red truck, ringing his bell and spreading joy everywhere.
What do you give me when I come to your house? Santa asked one child. I give you cookies and milk. The next child said, We make you waffles. Santa observed, No wonder Im so fat.
Ken Taro happened to be in the park earlier when he heard that Santa was scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. arrival. He went home and came back with his wife and two little girls, Rina, 6 and Luca, 4. Taro, who is a native of Japan, said Christmas is really big in Japan, but the Japanese celebrate all holidays. They love holidays.
When it was time to light the tree, the crowd gathered around and joined in a countdown. Three... two... The lights flickered on and fizzled out. A bystander called to Lucas, Warren, did you forget to pay the bill?
When at last the tree broke into hundreds of bright lights, the crowd broke into a hundred cheerful smiles. Santa cried, Ho, ho, ho! and the 2011 holiday season officially arrived in North Salem.
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