Archive for Friday, November 29, 2013

Crowds celebrate Santa’s arrival during annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony

November 29, 2013

Advertisement

Mike Yoder/Journal-World Photo. Elizabeth Richardson, 4, left, whispers her Christmas wishes in Santa's ears while her 10-month-old sister Mable sits in Santa's lap at right. Santa was rescued by the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department from the roof of Weaver's Department store Friday night, and the downtown Christmas lights were lit in a ceremony.

Mike Yoder/Journal-World Photo. Elizabeth Richardson, 4, left, whispers her Christmas wishes in Santa's ears while her 10-month-old sister Mable sits in Santa's lap at right. Santa was rescued by the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department from the roof of Weaver's Department store Friday night, and the downtown Christmas lights were lit in a ceremony.

People began crowding around the corner of Ninth and Massachusetts Streets around 5 p.m. Friday in preparation for Santa’s annual visit to Lawrence.

At the stroke of 6 p.m., Mayor Michael Dever flipped the switch to turn on the lights wound around the trees along Massachusetts Street. After counting down from 10, there was a pop of green, red, blue and white lights, signaling the beginning of the holiday season.

Moments later, hundreds aimed their phones and cameras in the direction of Weaver’s Department Store. People spilled into the street and parents hefted their kids onto their shoulders to get a better glimpse of the main event: Santa’s rescue.

“He’s on top of Weaver’s?” said Richard Renner, emcee of the event. “No, he did that last year.”

Santa does this every year during the Holiday Lighting Ceremony. And each year, crowds come out to see his rescue before kids line up to recite their wish lists.

The entertainment continued Friday evening as firefighters from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical used a ladder truck to retrieve Santa. They then escorted him from the roof, down the ladder and through the hoard of frenzied kids.

“Let’s make room for the big guy,” Renner said. “Santa is open for business, and Christmas has started in downtown Lawrence.”

With that, kids were led on stage one-by-one to talk briefly with Santa before getting a cookie and reuniting with their families.

Bobby Richardson helped one daughter, Elizabeth, 4, on stage Friday evening while holding his other daughter, Mable, 10 months. Both girls sat on Santa’s lap while their mother, Joany, snapped a photo from below.

The family waited in line so Elizabeth could tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas: “A baby doll,” she said.

Sally Zogry, executive director of Downtown Lawrence, Inc., estimated between 1,000 and 2,000 people attended the ceremony Friday evening.

“We had really good crowds,” Zogry said. “They came early and were enthusiastic.”

Comments

John Yocum 1 year, 7 months ago

My wife and I were there and all I can say is that nothing says Christmas to Lawrence kids waiting for Santa better than a good old-fashioned fire eater. After living here for 25 years, what do I expect? People around us were wondering the same thing. Strange choice for an opening act to the light lighting ceremony. Besides that, a lot of fun.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.