As children and their parents waited in near darkness for Santa Claus to arrive in Great Falls and light the massive Christmas tree at the Village Centre, two black llamas and a whinnying Shetland pony kept tensions from rising.
The petting animals were brought in to amuse the children after the tree-lighting but were a central attraction for the evening. A few hundred Great Falls residents ventured out into the cold on Dec. 3 to share good spirits and holiday cheer.
ÒItÕs nice to be here. ItÕs a little dark to see people, but once you bump into someone you know, you can share some Christmas talk,Ó said Shelley Parker.
After a round of Christmas songs by local children, Santa arrived at 6:30 p.m. on a fire truck to light the tree and personally greet the children. ÒHe went really quick,Ó said young Erik Carbough. ÒThatÕs OK. IÕll see him again before Christmas,Ó he added.
After the lights on the tree spread their glow, stadium lights were brought up on the field to help guide the way for residents. The children then flocked to the petting animals and the pony rides to round out their evening.