Santa Arrives on the VRE
Santa made his first appearance of the season in Old Town Manassas
There must have been a million tiny, twinkle lights illuminating the night as the Merry Old Town's Annual Tree Lighting ceremony kicked Friday with the arrival of Santa aboard the Virginia Railway Express.
Although the weather was a smidgen on the chilly side, that didn't deter the crowds from spending time eagerly waiting for the arrival of the jolly old elf at the depot. Santa arrived around 6:15 p.m. at the Manassas Depot greeted by Mrs. Claus, Vice Mayor Andrew L. "Andy" Harrover, Virginia Woman of the Year Cindy Brookshire, the Greater Manassas Parade Chairman John Martin, R.B. Thomas ,the Grand Marshall of Saturday's parade and approximately 4,000 very eager children.
Upon his arrival, Santa was whisked away on an old-fashioned hayride to the Manassas Museum. Led by the Osbourn High School Marching Band, two festively decorated hay wagons were pulled through town on a 30-minute tour of the city culminating at the Manassas Museum. There, the tree lighting ceremony brought oooh's and aaah's reminiscent of sounds you would hear at any Fourth of July Fireworks celebration.
Truly this is a town with holiday spirit! Not only were on-lookers dressed in festive clothing, the Osbourn High School Marching Band decided to show a little holiday spirit as well. Santa hats, colorful gloves and even lights on some of the instruments helped bring a note of cheer as they led the parade through Old Town Manassas. Band director Bill Stevens offered an array of holiday classics, but it appeared that Jingle Bells was one of the evenings favorites - and one of the crowd's favorites as well.
The Manassas Chanticleers, who also joined in on the evenings events, brought Christmas carols to life in four-part harmony with crowds singing along to their favorite tunes. The group is comprised of the musical talents of eight members: Christopher McConnell, Bernadette McConnell, Thomas Mehr, Jody Ritner, Deborah, Margaret and Mary Fancher as well as John Gray on the organ. Dressed in period clothing, they brought the "Old Town" feel back to Old Town Manassas.
Family fun and festivities included ice skating at the Harris Pavilion ice rink, grabbing a cup of hot cocoa or a hot dog at one of the corner vendors, shopping in any of the numerous shops that extended their hours to accommodate guests, and of course pictures with Santa at the Harris Pavilion gazebo.
"We've been coming here for the past three years, somehow the train is always just a little bit late, but that doesn't bother anyone - especially the kids! There's always plenty for them to do," said one parent of two.
The annual tree lighting ceremony kicks off the holiday season in Old Town Manassas. Tomorrow the city will host the 65th Annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade starting at 10am. Get your seats early - residents are saying this is a must-see event!