Santa is coming to Downtown! On November 19, 2015 Santa will be making a trip to Downtown State College to kick of the holiday season and officially light the holiday tree. The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on Allen Street with music and special holiday performances. There will also be free cookies and warm drinks for all as everyone eagerly anticipates Santa’s arrival.
A Downtown State College tradition for over 15 years, the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony started as a small celebration in Central Parklet (now Sidney Friedman Memorial Park), where the community joined together to light the tree and kick off the holiday season. As the ceremony grew larger and more community members attended, the Downtown Improvement District worked with Penn State to relocate the tree to the Allen Street Gates. Each year, crowds gather to sing carols, enjoy free refreshments, welcome Santa, and see the lighting of the tree.
Dan and Galla have been providing entertainment at the Tree Lighting Ceremony for ten years now. In addition to leading sing-alongs and getting the crowd excited before Santa makes his debut, Galla also monitors the “tracking device” that says how close Santa is to downtown. She says,“It is a wonderful experience to see the excitement in the children’s eyes [when Santa arrives].” After his arrival, Galla assists Santa in selecting a child to help him light the tree.
One of the many reasons this event gives a magical feeling of community is because of the opportunity provided for those less fortunate. Each year, the Improvement District partners with the State College Food Bank and Toys for Tots to collect donations to help everyone in our community have a festive holiday season. Everyone is invited to bring a donation, but as an added bonus, children who donate will be entered in a drawing to help Santa Claus light the tree!