FORTY FORT — The excitement on the faces of eager onlookers outside Forty Fort Park peaked Sunday afternoon as the cavalcade of emergency vehicles escorting Santa Claus inched their way down Wyoming Avenue during the fifth annual West Side Santa Parade.
Children leapt up from their makeshift seats on curbs, sidewalks and in the grass along the road as the parade’s main attraction pulled up and began handing out candy canes and posing for pictures. Not unwise to popular trends, Santa even snapped a selfie with one giddy parade-goer.
Sirens blaring, emergency vehicles from throughout the West Side participated in the event, including those from Wyoming, West Wyoming, West Pittston, Kingston, Harding, Forty Fort, Swoyersville, Exeter and Exeter Township.
Conrad Bantell, 6, jumped up and down as the caravan rode by.
Santa Claus, along with the Mrs., then participated in the lighting of Forty Fort Park’s Christmas tree. Clapping ensued as the multicolored lights coiled around the tree lit up for the first time this holiday season.
Bailey Tregan, 14, and her friend Katelyn Thornton, 12, joined the North Pole’s premier couple on their float along the parade route, which began on First Street in Wyoming.
Tregan, of Dallas, said the Christmas music and the droves of people waving along the way made the experience that much better. Katelyn’s mother, Tracy, said the parade helps get people in the Christmas spirit.
“People young and old can get involved,” said Tracy Thornton, of Harding.
Clad in a red sweater, Forty Fort Mayor Andy Tuzinski said he was pleased with the event’s turnout, crediting the abundant sunshine and temperatures that were generous for the third week of November.
“It’s great to see the kids’ faces light up and see Santa,” Tuzinski said. “As long as you believe in Santa, everything is good.”
Wyoming Mayor Bob Boyer, Tuzinski said, handled the majority of the planning for the annual parade and equated the preparation phase to being on “auto pilot.” McCarthy Tire provided Santa and Mrs. Claus’ float, he said.
“We’re fortunate not a lot of planning has to go into this,” Tuzinski said.
After the brief tree lighting ceremony, children scurried around the park.
“It’s great to see kids enjoying the park and today’s event,” he said. “That’s what living in a small town is all about.”