Annual tree lighting kicks off WinterFest 2017, despite construction

Santa and Mrs. Claus ride fire truck into town to mingle. Photo by Morgan Schmidt.

Santa and Mrs. Claus ride fire truck into town to mingle. Photo by Morgan Schmidt.

By Morgan Schmidt
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

TOWSON, Md. – The lighting of the city’s 20-foot pine Christmas tree filled with 1,400 twinkling bulbs kick-started exciting month-long activities while reinforcing the unity and good will the nation is trying to recapture.

Just under 1,000 residents and visitors gathered in Olympic Park Friday night to celebrate the annual lighting of Towson’s Christmas tree. Excitement filled the air because the event also begins WinterFest, which is a variety of weekend festivities sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce that last throughout the month of December.

“It’s great that the weather worked out,” said Colin Exelby, director of the WinterFest Committee, referring to the fact that the temperature did not drop below 45 degrees and that the crowd was larger than the usual 400 to 500 spectators.

In past years, half of the event was held inside the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. But ongoing construction forced all the activities outside.

Festivities include parade. Photo by Morgan Schmidt.

Festivities include parade. Photo by Morgan Schmidt.

Several entertainers were added to this year’s schedule of events, including Frozen characters, Elsa and Olaf. Children of all ages, half-eaten candy canes in hand, surrounded them before Santa Claus arrived on a bright red fire truck with sirens howling and lights flashing.

“The Towson Fire Station volunteers to drive Santa and Mrs. Claus down the street,” said Emma Forrester, marketing director for the Towson Chamber, adding there was no cost associated with the grand entrance.

“I thought that was cool. It got [my daughter, Aubrey] cheering,” said Steve Lacrawn, who came with his wife, Kate, and their two infant daughters. “I came for the fire jugglers.”

As the night continued, the Calvert Hall Jazz Band filled the air with holiday classics. They were joined by Perry Hall Middle and Towson High School.

Fire juggler is popular attraction.  Photo by Morgan Schmidt.

Fire juggler is popular attraction. Photo by Morgan Schmidt.

“We just wanted to be involved,” said Deborah Clerman, who sings for the Towson High School Chamber Choir. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

Events like Ho Ho Ho Happy Hours and Breakfast with the Grinch aim to keep the spirit alive until Dec. 25th. Officials said the county will offer two hours of free parking while people shop and eat.

“I think it went really well,”Exelby said. “Everyone seems happy.”

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