Thousand’s flocked to Historic Folsom Friday night to ring in the holidays with the community at the annual tree lighting celebration. The crowd was one of the biggest yet to attend the annual event and many of them where there for the arrival of the man of the hour, Santa Claus.

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Santa arrived in the district right around the 6:00 hour. The jolly one in red rode into town aboard the City of Folsom Fire Department’s antique fire engine, which was flanked by Folsom Police units and several modern day engines to form a grand entry with lights, sirens and fanfare to the delight of the crowd of children and families who crowded to the sidewalk to get a first look at Santa, Mrs. Claus and several helpers including Rudolph and a selection of festive elves.

Once they stepped down from the engine, Santa and his entourage were quickly surround by the hundreds of excited children, accompanied by their parents. The crowd made Santa’s walk to his custom cottage look like scaled down version of that of a carpet event, only it was Santa arriving rather than Taylor Swift or Bruno Mars.

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As Santa made his way to his new “magical cottage,” one of the new additions to the Historic District thanks to a number of volunteers, businesses and donors, he began visiting with families one a time, a task that lasted long into the night and sent many home with big smiles and plenty of holiday spirit.

Leading up to the official tree lighting, several special performances took place throughout the district from Frozen’s Queen Elsa serenading guests from the balcony of the historic opera house building to performances up and down the street by Take Note Troupe, Theory Dance, John Adams Academy and others.

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Taking place at the same time in the Historic Folsom Plaza there was a hoopla of entertainment as well. At the Zittel Family Amphitheater, emcee Sunny Mitchell welcomed several youth groups that performed. Those performing included Folsom Preparatory School along with the Leighton Dance Project, the Bayside Church Choir and Theory Dance.

Just before the attention moved up to the balcony of Willamette Wineworks, Sutter Street Theatre performed on the stairs adjacent to the ice rink. Just before the local dignitaries spoke there was a bit of police activity in the plaza as the Grinch was caught in the act stealing decorations (see additional story). From there, the entertainment moved to the upper balcony as the clock ticked towards the official lighting time of 7:30 p.m.

Folsom Historic District Association Board President Jim Snook took the stage to welcome all of the guests below and thank the many sponsors and volunteers that make the annual affair possible.  Snook was interrupted by the Grinch once again as the green grumpy character hijacked the microphone to share a series of jokes and perform his famed song on the rail of the balcony. Snook then passed the microphone to Folsom Mayor Rosario Rodriguez who offered a warm welcome to the crowd and many words of thanks to the community.

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Rodriguez welcomed Renee Snook to the microphone with her to perform the countdown. As the clock struck 7:30, the 35-foot white fir tree came to life in the center of the rink, following by a cheer from the crowd that likely could be heard all the way at the north pole. Historic Folsom Station’s Jerry Bernau continued the long tradition of selecting and purchasing the tree as a donation to the district. The tree was chosen amidst several potential candidates at Smart’s Tree Farm in Camino and located and erected in the plaza thanks to help from Bonar Engineering and Tailored Tree.

Immediately after the tree was lit, recent NBC Voice contestant Kristen Brown performed a rendition of “All I want for Christmas,’ as the crowd of the crowd danced and sang along below. When the song concluded, the Lakeside Church Band performed on the steps of the ice rink to continue the celebration.

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Now that the tree is aglow and Santa has officially arrived in Folsom, he will be in the Historic District for evening visits and carriage rides starting on December 2 from 6 to 8 pm. He will return to the district rain or shine at the cottage Dec. 8 and 9th as well.  Additional holiday events include the annual Christmas Craft Fair on Sutter Street Sunday from 9 am until 4 pm. Learn all the fine details at www.historicfolsom.org.

See photos from Friday’s event below

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan