Despite the bitter cold, this year's annual Christmas Tree Lighting in the Great Falls Village Centre brought out hosts of families. Parents and children lined up for hot chocolate and cider, and huddled around the bonfire to keep warm.
The Lighting featured a visit from Santa Claus, a petting zoo, a live nativity scene, and performances by the Herndon Madrigals and the Great Falls Elementary School choir.
"Our teacher is singing," said Grace Hardardt, 6, referring to Patricia Budwig, Director of Starshine Theater in Great Falls.
Children were able to line up to visit with Santa Claus — one of the event's most popular activities. Anna Paczuski, 5, declared "seeing Santa" to be her favorite part of the night.
"And the ponies," she added.
Fuzzy miniature ponies were on hand to provide rides to the scores of children in attendance.
"I always wanted to ride a horse," said Mary Beth Brosan, 6, who added that she is looking forward to caroling with her Brownie troop this month.
Her sister Megan Brosan, 4, also enjoyed the pony rides, but like Anna Paczuski, said that the best part of the evening was "seeing Santa."