Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow were finding it hard to stand still in Highland Friday night. The center of town was transformed into his workshop, and the line of bright-eyed youngsters eager to sit upon his crimson-clad lap snaked across the square and past Calgary Chapel.
The merry old elf wasn’t there just to take requests, though: Santa’s magic was needed to light up the hamlet with festive colors. That trick happened soon after he arrived with blaring sirens, which were rivaled in volume by the scream of anticipation and chants of his name. Mr. Claus is central to the celebration, but the festivities included contributions from many in the community and included sacred aspects of Christmas alongside the secular ones.
Music is a important tradition this time of year, and there was plenty of it. High school students sang inside the First Methodist Episcopal Church while four of their classmates performed holiday tunes on brass instruments outside Santa’s workshop. In between sets, members of the Evergreen Chorus warmed those in line with their take on seasonal tunes.
Also warming hearts — and bellies — were members of Highland Rotary, moving through the crowd with trays of steaming hot chocolate. The weather was above freezing, but the gift was often received gratefully by chilled fingers. Others ducked inside Calgary Chapel, where pastor Joe Curry greeted visitors with a broad smile while volunteers handed out cocoa and baked treats. “Jesus paid the price; this is free,” said one woman behind the table.
Inside First Methodist Episcopal Church, a few vendors offered handmade goods and more on one side, with a cookie walk taking up the other. The seats were filled with those seeking a chance to nibble and listen to the high school choral music offerings performed before the altar.
Based on the length of the line and the requests on the lips of those in it, Santa is going to be spending a good amount of time in Highland this Christmas. Hopefully, he’ll get all those gifts under trees before the final stroke of midnight.