PITTSTON — Christmas is still a few weeks away, but Saturday evening in Pittston took on a holiday theme anyway.
The city held its fourth annual Christmas in Pittston celebration in the lower Tomato Festival lot on Main Street, featuring caroling, hot chocolate, Christmas music and a visit from Santa Claus.
Anna and Elsa from the Disney movie “Frozen” also made appearances.
The first Christmas in Pittston event had an attendance of only 80 people, while the second year drew more than 1,000. Rain hampered last year’s event, but there was still a strong showing of nearly 100 people.
With a clear night, the annual event was looking to have a big showing once again as the lines for Santa Claus and the horse-drawn carriage began well before the event officially kicked off.
“I feel really good about (this year’s event)” said city Events Coordinator Sarah Donahue. “I’m very excited and very motivated by the crowd that’s here early. I’m nervous, obviously, as any event goes, I’m nervous until it kicks off. We’ve been doing a lot of planning and preparation in advance, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t go well.”
By the time Pittston Mayor Jason Klush kicked off the countdown to light the Christmas tree, the lower Tomato Festival lot was filled to capacity.
If children did not get to visit Santa personally, Main Street Manager Rose Randazzo said there is a mailbox in the parking lot for letters to Santa. The mailbox will be available through Christmas.
Vendors on hand included the Salvation Army selling hot chocolate, balloon artist TJ Belt and Purple Squirrel Pastry Co.
Cindi Pape, owner of Purple Squirrel, said they made 350 cookies that included sugar cookies, chocolate chip and oatmeal.
Purple Squirrel opened up on Main Street in Pittston earlier this year, and Pape said she was thrilled to be a part of the annual Christmas event.
“We’re the next block up, so we miss out a lot of what goes on here in the Tomato Festival lot,” she said. “But, we’re really just looking forward to seeing everything and getting out and being part of it.”
Planning for the Christmas in Pittston event was a bit different this year for Donahue and Randazzo, thanks for the Halloween on Main Street event in October.
Donahue said she normally begins preparations for the Christmas event in October and had to push those preparations back.
“That took up all of my October,” she said. “It was new and I didn’t know what needed to be done and how it would go. Once that ended I had to go right into the next event, which was this. Once I recovered from Halloween, we started working on this.”
Luckily, she said, there was nothing new this year and that Santa, the horses and the Indigo Moon Brass Band were just phone calls away.
“Once you’ve done it a couple of times, it gets easier every year,” Donahue said.
Donahue said her favorite moment from the evening was when Santa Clause arrived and the children lit up with joy.
Randazzo said she enjoys the families all coming together.
“I love being able to do a free event for children,” she said. “Parents can take their children downtown for the event and not spend one dollar and their kids will get a gift, drink hot chocolate, get a treat, get a balloon and have a lot of fun.”