ELYRIA — Despite the cold and wet weather, dozens of families came to the Festival of Lights celebration, waiting excitedly as Santa rode a peculiar “sleigh” around Ely Square Saturday evening.
Santa traveled around the square aboard an Elyria firetruck, with a procession of other EMS vehicles with sirens alerting his arrival. As he got off the truck, he was swarmed by children excited to see St. Nicholas bring the holiday season to Elyria.
Old Kris Kringle made his way to the stage on the square and stood with Mayor Holly Brinda, who welcomed him to flip the switch to light up the square.
“Anything special planned for Elyria?” Mayor Brinda asked him.
“Peace, prosperity and good business,” he replied.
Daysha Guzman, of Elyria, was with her 4-year-old daughter Serenity, who couldn’t contain herself. She jumped up and down chanting, “I love Santa.” Serenity said she wanted a baby doll from Santa.
The event started at 3 p.m. in Ely Square and inside City Hall at 131 Court St., facing the square. Brinda said she was happy the weather didn’t deter many people and was satisfied with the turnout.
“We’re very happy to welcome in the holiday season,” she said. “We want to make sure everybody in Elyria has an opportunity to celebrate the holidays.”
Brinda also expressed her gratitude for the donors, corporations and organizations that helped make the event possible.
The festival included ice sculpture carving, children’s crafts, caroling, holiday movies in City Council chambers, a caricature artist and other family-friendly attractions. Books were also given to children who attended, courtesy of Brinda. There also was a petting zoo with a yak, alpacas, sheep and pygmy goats. A new addition to the event was camel rides on Court Street for children weighing less than 85 pounds.
After the lighting ceremony, the children visited Santa to tell him their Christmas wishes.