Santa Claus is coming to Lawrence a few weeks early, and the Lawrence community is invited to meet him tonight in downtown Lawrence.
Santa’s visit is part of the annual holiday lighting ceremony and Santa rescue, hosted by Downtown Lawrence Inc.
“I think it’s probably one of the most unique, charming spectacles, especially if you have little kids or grandkids,” Downtown Lawrence director Cathy Hamilton said.
The event is a holiday kickoff for downtown Lawrence businesses.
The ceremony begins at 5 p.m. with an opening act, street performer Juggling Dingus. The cast of Theatre Lawrence’s “The Sound of Music” also will perform a number from the musical and lead the crowd in Christmas carols.
At 6 p.m., Mayor Bob Schumm will speak. After that, the crowd will count down to the holiday lights being turned on.
The lighting of downtown cues a fire truck rescue for Santa Claus, who is stuck at the top of Weaver’s Department Store, 901 Massachusetts St.
“The way the spotlight hits Santa and the sirens start up and the lights flash and everything comes to a halt — it’s just a very one-of-a-kind holiday tradition,” Hamilton said.
After Santa is rescued, he will make his way to the stage where children can sit on his lap for gift requests.
Hamilton advised spectators to arrive early to meet Santa because the lines are long, and the earlier they arrive, the closer they can get to the stage.
“As soon as he gets off that fire truck, he’s a rock star,” Hamilton said.
The ceremony will take place at Ninth and Massachusetts streets in front of U.S. Bank and Weavers, and is free and open to the public.