It’s officially Christmas time in Montgomery.
While hundreds of people watched, cheered and clapped, Santa and Mrs. Claus flipped the switch Sunday night that lit up Montgomery’s Christmas tree outside on River Street. The annual ceremony ordinarily draws a crowd, but by many reports, Sunday’s drew the largest number of people organizers had ever seen for this event.
Many of them were children, and their eyes lit up as Santa Claus made his entrance, riding in the bucket of a truck. Santa joined Mrs. Claus on the ground, then made his way to the tree, which had been decorated with ornaments made by local children.
After the tree was lit, the festivities kicked into high gear. Families lined up to get photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus inside, and those lines stretched up the Village Hall staircases and around the second-floor bend. While they waited, parents and kids were treated to a performance by the Oswego High School Jazz Ensemble, playing Christmas carols.
Inside Village Hall, kids munched on free cookies and washed them down with hot chocolate. The corridors of the Hall were lined with trees, all decorated and placed there by local businesses, and attendees could vote for their favorite. This is the first year for the Festival of Trees event, sponsored by the village of Montgomery with prizes provided by the Greater Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, and votes will be collected through Dec. 16.
Meanwhile, out front, students from several area elementary schools and Cub Scout packs sang carols and songs, on a stage provided by the Fox Valley Park District. Parents cheered and clapped, and sang along.
Despite some glitches with the electricity on the stage, the tree lighting ceremony ran smoothly, organizers said. Pam Nagel, executive administrator with the Chamber of Commerce, said the event drew about twice as many people as last year’s.
One indicator of the size of the crowd, she said, is the amount of food and drink given away.
"We bought 30 percent more cocoa than last year, and we ran out," she said, beaming.
Check out the photos from Sunday’s tree lighting above. If you want to see those pictures move, come on back to Patch tomorrow for a video from the event.