Despite frigid temperatures, a sizable crowd of families attended the Town of Lloyd’s annual Light Up the Hamlet event on Friday, Dec. 13. The streets of downtown Highland were blocked off to traffic to foster a block party atmosphere in which kids and their parents could roam freely.
Santa Claus kicked off the evening’s events after arriving in town via fire truck, escorted by local police (as only befitting such a dignitary). After Santa flipped the switch that lit up the Christmas tree and the oversized lighted globe ornaments on the street posts, he made his way to his makeshift quarters for the evening at Santa’s Workshop across the street from the tree.
Town of Lloyd Events Committee chair Kate Jonietz said they’d planned things a little differently this year to avoid the crowds of children that descended on Santa all at once at last year’s event. This time around, kids were given “passports” that gave admission to five separate events around town. Each child was asked to get their passport stamped by at least three of the “station masters” at each event before bringing their stamped passport back to Santa’s Workshop where his head elf would grant admission to see Santa Claus.
Two of the “stations” were held at the First United Methodist Church. “Follow the Star” was a live nativity story in the meeting room. The other station was inside the main church where the Highland High School Chamber Choir sang under the direction of their choir leader and piano accompanist, Lynda Keech. Listeners could indulge in a bit of homemade fudge, cookies or other appetizing sweets at the bake sale there or buy an entire box of the treats to take home for later.
Another “stampable activity,” as Jonietz worded it, was a Girl Scout-sponsored ornament-making workshop where kids made all-natural bird feeders to hang on trees outside. Yet another station was at “From Stage to Screen” where there were other holiday crafts to make, and the last event to get a passport stamped was the fire pit in the center of town, where under gently falling snowflakes, marshmallows were toasted and s’mores were the order of the evening.
The event was sponsored by the Highland Downtown Business Association in conjunction with the Town of Lloyd Events Committee, which in addition to Jonietz includes AnnMarie Meisel, Stephanie Fraino and Joseph Indelicato. Jonietz’s family was much in evidence on Friday night helping out, too. “Oh, I couldn’t do any of this without the support from home,” Kate said.
The community of Highland didn’t forget about the less fortunate children in the area, either, donating generously to the Toys for Tots drive held by the Town of Lloyd Police Department.
And even after a late night lighting up the hamlet, Santa Claus braved substantial falling snow the following day to make an appearance at the police open house on Saturday, Dec. 14 to take photographs with kids who brought toys to add to what the police had already collected for distribution.
But then again, what’s a late night and a little snow to Santa Claus?