As it came to a stop, one man in a red suit bounded his way down the steep metal stairs. But this was no firefighter. This was Santa Claus.
To the delight of the more than 100 mostly children who attended Oberlin’s annual lighting of the Friendship Tree Friday night, Kris Kringle himself made an appearance, bringing with him his lovely wife, Mrs. Claus, and his trademark “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
The couple came in on the fire truck and got out on East College Street in front of the tree, walking slowly toward it while rubbing the heads and patting the backs of children hoping to pass along their wish lists.
After Santa led a countdown from 10 with the crowd, dozens of bright, colored lights that covered the tree came alive and the Clauses made their way into the Cable Co-op building across the street where Father Christmas sat down with the children.
Corey Helmling, 7, and his brother C.J. Helmling, 8, of Elyria, came bearing a Christmas list they made out of red construction paper and cut into the shape of a stocking. On them were their three top presents, including “Star Wars” toys, a mini skateboard ramp and a robot.
“Santa’s cool,” said Corey. “And I’ve been really good this year.”
Not everyone was in the Santa mood, however. Also visiting the crowd were the costumed main characters from Nickelodeon cartoons, “Dora the Explorer” and “SpongeBob Squarepants,” which didn’t help 38-year-old Bill Thomson’s efforts to convince his 2½-year-old son, Timothy, to sit on Santa’s lap.
“Would you rather see Dora or Santa?” Thomson asked his son, who sat perched atop his father’s shoulders. The answer was easy for Timothy: Dora.
“Maybe next year,” said Thomson, a Chicago native in town visiting family for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Prior to Santa’s arrival, a live performance by vocal group The Croonerz entertained people outside the Oberlin Inn while chili, hot chocolate and cookies were served to the crowd.
The event was sponsored by Cable Co-op, The Croonerz, Main Street Oberlin Inc., the Oberlin Area Chamber of Commerce, the Oberlin Fire Department, the Oberlin Inn, Oberlin Rotary Interact Club and the Rotary Club of Oberlin.