Helene Teel, the manager of Village Centre, is alert this week for sightings of cardinals.
Their red feathers would be “a bad sign,” she said, an indication that snow might arrive in Great Falls before Santa does.
He’s scheduled to appear at 6:30 p.m. sharp on Friday, Dec. 6, riding on a fire truck.
He’ll clamber down, sling a bag full of toys and sleigh bells over his back, and greet his admirers, children lining the mulch path to the gigantic tree waiting in the dark.
Promptly at 6:30 p.m., it will blaze with thousands of tiny white lights, illuminating the white star on top and red bows on peppermint posts around it.
Christmas will come to Great Falls.
ALREADY, RED BOWS AND GREEN garlands decorate the lampposts and gazebo in the village green, said Teel.
“I just had a visit from Santa,” she said. “He left me his big old bag to fill with several hundred sleigh bells, each one on a leather strap, that he will give to the children.
On Friday night, Santa will sit on a “big old comfy sofa from The Nail Studio,” Teel said.
With snow predicted on Wednesday night and Thursday morning,
“Please don’t mention the s-word, but that was very much on Santa’s mind,” Teel said. “You know Santa and the children love snow.
“Apparently his hair and clothing keep him warm. I think it’s ‘the colder, the better’ for him.”
Teel quoted Santa as saying that “We are hardy men. We bear the cold.”
“But I worry about all my little helpers, like the Scout troops,” she said. “They were to meet me early in the afternoon [on Friday] to set out the luminary bags and get them lit.
“Not too many little hands can do that [in the cold]. As much as the little ones want to help, I don’t picture that happening with this cold,” she said.
AT PRESS TIME, the National Weather Service (NWS) was predicting “hazardous weather conditions” for Wednesday and Thursday, with a 40 percent chance of snow on Wednesday increasing to 70 percent Wednesday night. The NWS said several inches of accumulation are possible.
“All of a sudden, I am trying to see if there is a cardinal on the tree outside,” Teel said. “That is a bad sign; that red against all that white.”
Thursday will be mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of snow and highs near 30. Low temperatures near 20 will keep any snow on the ground through Friday, which was predicted to be mostly sunny and breezy with highs in the upper 30s.
“I do think Santa’s line will be considerable shorter,” Teel said.
“People had better wear a lot of layers.”
“But people will still want to see that tree lit. I am sure we will still go forward” with the lighting ceremony,” she said. “Margaret Johnson [former owner of the Great Falls Horse Center] will still go ahead with the horse nativity, [but] I can’t envision a live ‘baby Jesus’ this year.”
HOT CIDER, 32 GALLONS of it donated by Safeway, will be served free in cups donated by Gilette’s.
“With a little bit of snow on the ground, lights on the tree and Santa on the fire truck, I don’t think there’s anywhere else that people would want to be,” said Teel.