By Kim Lux
Santa Claus is coming to town and local residents are invited to come say hello to him during the first-ever Light Up North East Parade.
The North East Area Chamber of Commerce annually holds Light Up North East, which features Christmas caroling and the lighting of the Christmas tree. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 30. The parade will begin at 5:15 p.m. and be followed by activities in Gibson Park.
“Santa will lead the parade at 5:15 p.m.,” said The Chamber’s Executive Director Holly Ferruggia. “He will be riding into town on the Craig Family tractors with Mrs. Claus and their elf.”
Ferruggia said she hopes the parade will be a fun way for families to kick off the holiday season together.
“It’s something fun we can do for the community,” she said of the parade. “One of our board members saw it someplace else and suggested we bring it to life here in North East.
“It’s a nice way to kick off the holiday season since people are in town for Small Business Saturday,” Ferruggia added. “Small Business Saturday kicks off the busy retail season, but the parade will be the start of the fun, family-friendly holiday season.”
The parade is set to include North East Township, North East Borough, the North East Police Department, Crescent and Fuller hose companies, Craig Family tractors and more.
The North East High School marching band will also be in attendance.
“People can line the sidewalks along Main Street and through the park to watch the parade,” Ferruggia said. “We’ll have everyone park and stay on Gibson Street while we carol.”
The Light Up North East parade route is short, and participants will be lining up on North Pearl Street beginning at 5 p.m. The parade will start on North Pearl Street and then travel left onto Main Street. Left onto Park Street and then conclude on Gibson Street.
“The parade will be followed by caroling in the park and then the annual lighting of the tree,” she said. “Then, everyone can meet at First Baptist Church to see Santa. Santa will be heading straight to the church to get ready.”
At First Baptist Church, 43 S. Lake St., families are invited to enjoy hot chocolate, Sander’s cookies served by Boy Scout Troop 82 and special rice cereal treats from the Skunk & Goat Tavern.
“The Chamber will be handing out little gifts as well,” Ferruggia said. “We’ll also have a place where families can get a nice family photo in front of a festive backdrop.”
Ferruggia added the Chamber has been busy working with the North East Borough Streets Department to have the downtown area decorated in time for Santa’s arrival.
“The borough workers have been great and are busy getting the holiday decorations up,” she said. ‘We have new garland this year, new banners, giant red bows and more decorations.”
The Chamber will even have a special Santa’s Mailbox on display in front of its office, located at 44 W. Main St., where children can bring their letters to Santa.
“Make sure to bring your letter to Santa and put it in our mailbox,” Ferruggia said.
Light Up North East is presented by the North East Area Chamber of Commerce, a special events grant from ECGRA, and several generous sponsors: Barnhart Transportation, Downtown North East, Erie News Now, Hometown Veterinary Hospital, Infinity Resources, Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett, P.C., North East Animal Hospital, Ray Wakley’s Car Care & RV Center and Widget Financial.