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BUENA - Holiday cheer was in abundance Friday night at the 17th annual Municipal Tree Lighting and Fire Truck Parade at the Buena Vista Township Municipal Building on Harding Highway.

Residents crowded inside for a holiday singalong that was led by the Buena Regional Middle School Select Choir and children from Abundant Living Church.

Then Mayor Chuck Chiarello received word that Santa was on his way, and the crowd rushed outside for his arrival. Fire sirens could be heard in the distance, and with anticipation building the children crowded closer together and edged out to the very tip of the sidewalk. Eyes lit up and shrieks of joy filled the air once the first red fire truck light was spotted.

With sirens, horns and plenty of flashing lights, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived in a fleet of fire trucks from all over Buena Vista Township. He was quickly escorted to the municipal holiday tree where the crowd assisted him with in a countdown to a wave of his magic wand to light the towering tree.

Next up was hot chocolate, cookies and a visit with Santa, Mrs. Claus and a few of his elves. This year, Minnie Mouse even made a special appearance. The Buena Vista Township Special Events Committee had 200 gifts wrapped and ready for Santa to distribute. There were just enough gifts to go around to the record amount of children who lined up for the visit.

“It’s really nice how everybody gets together to enjoy this for the kids,” said Madelyn Santiago of Landisville. She was there with her daughter, Rosalynda Santiago, 7, who sang with the choir during the singalong.

For Rosalynda, singing in front of the crowd was the best part of the night. “I want to be a celebrity when I grow up,” she said.

For others, Santa was the highlight. Brayden Hinricksen, 4, of Buena Vista Township, even got to ride in the parade that escorted Santa to the event. He was beaming with excitement as Santa handed him an early Christmas gift.

The winners of the holiday coloring contest were also announced during the celebration, and each winner received a gift. This year’s winners include: Tristan Tuohy, 6, of Landisville (ages 5-6 category); Gianna Jennett, 8, of Williamstown (ages 7-9 category) and Nadia Cummings, 11, of Richland (ages 10-12 category.)

“I’m excited. I’ve entered since I was little,” said Cummings.

Also, anyone who donated a canned food item to the local food pantry received a chance to win an extra prize.

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