BURGETTSTOWN - Santa arrived at the borough's Main Street Park Saturday just in time to cast his "magic" over 40 trees decorated by area residents, organizations and businesses, lighting them and kicking off the borough's annual light up night ceremonies.
"It's wonderful to see everyone here spending time together and enjoying all the work everyone put into their trees," said Jim Reedy, coordinator. "We've got entertainment, lots of goodies and a great crowd."
The event started more than six years ago with 10 trees, and has grown each year, adding trees and participants. This year, scores of residents attended the event, which benefited from clear skies and mild temperatures.
"I'm grateful for the good weather and nice crowd," said Councilwoman Phoebe Suica.
Lily's A Flower Boutique won first place in the decoration contest, with Jamison's Army winning second place, Care for a Cure winning third and the Katus family winning an honorable mention. Judges distributed the awards based on creativity, theme, lights and overall presentation.
Reedy's Lawn Service won the people's choice award, as voted on by those attending the event.
"We all look forward to seeing the trees, voting for the people's choice and finding out who the judges' winners are," said Reedy.
He added that the decorating before the event also was a time for residents to visit with neighbors and friends who also were decorating trees throughout the day leading up to the event.
"It's amazing that such a small community manages to put on such a nice event," said Jackie Pleska, who was attending as a Burgettstown Community Library volunteer. "My kids love it, and I've been down here for the past couple years."
Offering entertainment during the event were Bill Chamberlain's vocal students; the gospel group Three For One, which encouraged those in attendance to sing along with Christmas carols; and the Burgettstown High School band, which also performed carols and holiday music.
"I think it's a really good event for the community," said Kellie Moore. "It's great for the community to come together."
Santa arrived to pull the switch and stayed to hear Christmas wishes from a long line of children attending the event. Santa also provided gifts to each child who visited with him.
"I want to thank the Demczak family," said Reedy, adding the family had assisted in getting Santa to the event.
During the event, Burgettstown Kids Center volunteers offered hot chocolate, cookies and other refreshments. The event isn't possible without the work of dozens behind the scene, said Reedy.
"Light up night 2012 has officially taken place," said Reedy. "I'm so happy so many people came out to take part in this. It's such a positive day for the community. The trees look great; you can tell a lot of thought, planning and work went into them.
"First, I want to thank John and Burt at Burgettstown Hardware, who are an integral part of light up night," he said. "We couldn't even begin to do this without their involvement.
"Secondly, I want to thank everyone and all the groups who decorated a tree. Thank you, without your involvement, we wouldn't have this event.
"I want to thank Three For One, they always do a great job. We want to thank Bill Chamberlain for bringing his vocal students out, they did a wonderful job. We thank the band and hope to see them here for many years to come.
"I want to thank all the volunteers who helped bring the trees in and the borough workers who helped put the trees in and made sure we had electric in place. I'm appreciative every day for their help. The kids center volunteers are the oil that keeps this machine running smoothly. Without their tremendous effort, this idea wouldn't have come together.
"And anyone else I've forgotten - a big thank you to anybody and everybody involved. Your continuing efforts make our community a better place."
The trees will remain in the park and on display and lit nightly throughout the holiday season until shortly after New Year's Day.
"It gets more spectacular every year," said Mayor Ann Marie Quader. "There's a lot of hard work here today. I enjoyed coming down and seeing everyone decorating their trees together."
The kids center will host a Christmas party for the area children from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 15.
"It's open to all the kids in the community," said Reedy.
The event will include music, refreshments, a visit from Santa and goodies. It is sponsored by local business Mug Enterprises Call Center Solutions.
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)