Santa Claus made his grand entrance early Saturday night on top of a fire engine as hundreds gathered to witness the annual tree lighting ceremony.
The event, which took place at Town Square and was hosted by Mayor Jim Schwantz, included Christmas carols performed by the Palatine Children’s Chorus just before Old St. Nick rode in to join the festivities.
Just after 5 p.m., Santa was escorted by Palatine police as he rounded the corner into Town Square atop a fire engine.
“Hello girls and boys, I had to ride in on the fire truck because my sleigh is being serviced before Christmas Eve when I deliver toys to all of you,” Santa Claus said at the event.
Santa was then lifted up more than 30 feet by the No. 85 fire engine ladder to reach the top of the village Christmas tree to help light it.
He counted down from 10, and just after reaching one, the tree lit up brightly above all who gazed up with anticipation.
Palatine residents, 5-year-old Sammie Jakubowski and 9-year-old Tess Boghossian, assisted the mayor with the presentation on the ground, after submitting winning letters to a village-sponsored contest.
Both girls wrote about what Christmas meant to them.
“I think the holiday season is about spending time with your family…it isn’t about presents, stockings, or Christmas trees. I think that giving is better than receiving. When you give something, it gives you a good feeling inside,” wrote Boghossian.
Jakubowski wrote, “I have been coming to the tree lighting every year for a long time now. Even though I am five years old, I am still too small to see everything. If I help you, then I can see everything.”
Residents appreciated the Christmas season kick-off as well as the pleasant but breezy weather at the event.
“The tree lighting was great this year; the weather cooperated and it is always a great way to get into the holiday spirit,” Palatine resident Karen Agoramos said.
Once the tree was lit, Santa descended from the ladder and headed toward the gazebo, where children waited to sit with him and roll out their Christmas lists.
Cookies and hot chocolate were offered to those who patiently waited for their turn with jolly old St. Nick.
“It’s fantastic that so many people came out tonight, this event is so much fun for the kids and something for them to really look forward to,” resident Marlo James said. “This just adds to the hometown feel of Palatine.”