PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Wakefield resident Saratin Rizzuto and her daughter Gia are all dressed for Christmas.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
SAUGUS — Crowds gathered Friday night for an evening filled with hot chocolate, sleigh rides, and the main event: the annual Christmas tree lighting.
The event kicked off a weekend packed with holiday celebrations.
Some snacked on cookies as they waited to see Santa Claus come to Town Hall, while others competed in a gingerbread house-making competition. The streets of Saugus Center were filled with spectators, sleigh rides, and trackless train rides.
Children enjoyed hayrides, a moon bounce, and petting zoo. Story time inside Town Hall was sponsored by the Saugus Public Library.
The Department of Youth and Recreation, the Department of Public Works, and several municipal employees spent the past few months planning the event.
Saturday morning, the Elementary Schools will continue their Holiday Stroll tradition. Families can visit each of the schools for Christmas games and activities.
All aboard the Polar Express. Children can enter the Veteran’s Memorial Elementary School library and travel to a mid-1950s train car filled with Christmas magic. The library will be decorated and families can have photos taken.
Tickets to the Journey to the North Pole attraction in Lincoln, New Hampshire will be raffled off. Tickets include a two hour round-trip ride to the North Pole in the White Mountains. Once the passengers arrive, they are escorted by elves to the North Pole Theatre and can leave letters for Santa at the Post Office. Tickets range from $47 to $67.
Children from the Beat ConnXtionz Dance Academy on Lincoln Avenue will perform at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Santa will visit from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Waybright Elementary School will have breakfast with Santa from 9 a.m. to noon. The event will offer breakfast and coffee to families. Children can have their faces painted, pictures taken, and complete holiday crafts.
Children can create their own stocking, ornament and elf hats at the Lynnhurst Elementary School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hot chocolate and popcorn, cotton candy, nachos, pizza and refreshments will be served.
Santa will arrive at Oaklandvale Elementary School at 10 a.m. Families can take pictures in a photo booth from 10 a.m. to 2 pm. A minion will make an appearance at noon, and pony rides will be offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
If children are feeling creative, they can decorate gingerbread cookies and other crafts. Chinese food from Kowloon will be served at noon and pizza will also be available.
Stella & Dot, LuLaRoe and Younique Cosmetics representatives are a few of the several local vendors that will line the halls.
Each Holiday Stroll is sponsored by the respective school’s Parent Teacher Organization.
Santa will be the special guest at this year’s annual Tree Decorating event at Breakheart Reservation. Families will trim the tree at the park from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Participants can bring Christmas ornaments or other decorative items to add to the 9-foot tree inside the Christopher P. Dunne Visitor Center, said Peter Rossetti, chairman of the Friends of Breakheart. They can also create their own ornaments at the event.
Santa still has plans ahead in the North Shore. He, along with Mrs. Claus, will disembark from a lobster boat at State Street Landing in Marblehead on Saturday morning. The town held their Christmas tree lighting Friday night, and their Christmas Walk continues through the weekend.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte