For generations, the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce has been proudly hosting Springfield’s Downtown Holiday Program – lighting the poles, hanging the banners, putting up the tree, coordinating music and caroling for the Tree Lighting Ceremony, and, of course, bringing Santa to town! In recent years, we’ve been happy to join forces with Springfield On the Move (SOM) to expand the offerings and bring even more cheer and festivity to the event. The Holiday Program continues to grow, and it truly takes a village to pull the whole thing off!
This year’s program kicked off at 4:00pm on Friday, December 1st with SOM’s Sticker Map Treasure Hunt. Holiday music filled the air as nearly 200 children and their families explored the luminary-lined streets of downtown, visiting 27 participating businesses to collect the stickers to complete their maps (and also receive some treats). Once completed, the maps were turned in at SOM in exchange for a holiday surprise!
At 5:30, the Springfield Community Band and Springfield High School Band launched into a myriad of festive tunes, accompanied by carolers, to entertain the crowds in People’s United Bank lot as they eagerly anticipated Santa’s arrival. And then, Hark! The distant sound of sirens could be heard, as Santa’s Firetruck and Police escort made their way to the center of town. Kids ooohed and ahhhed as the flashing vehicles came to a halt, and cheers erupted as Santa himself, and Mrs. Claus, emerged to greet the crowd with hugs and “Ho, Ho, Hos.” They made their merry way through the masses to Santa’s House, where Santa chose a lucky little child (Laila Ruzzo, age 5), and lifted her into the air to help him flip the magic switch to light the holiday tree. With a flash, and another cheer, the twinkling lights burst on to illuminate the tree, and the shining faces of the waiting people.
Then Santa and Mrs. Claus settled themselves in the house to receive their long line of visitors, checking twice to be sure of who was naughty or nice, and giving presents to all the girls and boys. When asked what she wants for Christmas, little Laila Ruzzo (who was just recently adopted into her loving forever home) replied with a shy smile, “a big family!” What a special dream come true!
We’d like to offer our gratitude to all the folks who helped to make this year’s event such a success! Thanks to Chamber President Jeff Perkins and Vice President Dan Harrington for lighting the poles and hanging the banners. SOM in collaboration with the Springfield Garden Club for the wreaths adorning poles. People’s United Bank for providing a safe space for the festivities. Christmas Trees at Bishop Farm for donating the beautiful tree. Brian Hernon and our friends at HB Energy Solutions for putting long hours into setting up the tree and Santa’s house and stringing so many lights! Lawrence & Wheeler for facilitating the WiFi speakers with holiday music. All the downtown businesses who decorated their storefronts to enhance the twinkling atmosphere. Springfield Community Band and Springfield High School Band for providing the lively entertainment. Peter MacGillivray, Walter Martone, Sophia Lihatsh, and the All-4-One volunteers who handled the luminaries. Shirley Cooper who knitted the hats and mittens for the mitten tree. Rene Capen for designing the Sticker Map. Springfield Fire Department and Springfield Police Department for escorting Santa in such fantastic style. CERT for directing traffic to ensure safe travels for pedestrians amongst the vehicles. And everyone who came out last Friday night to participate and share in the fun!
Santa will have additional visiting hours at his house in the People’s United Bank lot on Wednesday, December 13th and Wednesday, December 20th from 4 to 7pm, courtesy of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce.