A glow emanated from downtown New Haven yesterday evening as Christmas came to the New Haven Green.

Hundreds of New Haven residents gathered on the Green yesterday evening to see the lighting of the 60-foot tree. As they waited, children had the chance ride on a carousel and say hello to Santa Claus as he rode into town with a bag of toys on a New Haven fire truck.

Before and after the lighting, crowd members were entertained by a show that included performances by the Whiffenpoofs, the Yale Gospel Choir and the Trinity Girls Choir.

Katherine Burgueno said her daughter was excited to see Santa and the tree.

“It’s fabulous for the city to hold something like this,” Burgueno said. “We just can’t wait to see the tree.”

Children and their parents snapped pictures in front of the massive multi-colored tree. This year’s tree, a Norway Spruce, was donated by Paul and Marianne Mohyers from Shelton. The Moyhers and their extended family made an appearance on the main stage as the tree was lit.

Every year, the New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees conducts extensive searches of surrounding areas to find the perfect tree. The selected tree is painstakingly transported to the Green and displayed for a few weeks before the lighting ceremony.

The tree was illuminated with 60,000 lights strung on every sixth branch. A similar organizational system is used in decorating the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

As residents listened to each group’s performance of holiday songs, many lined up to take a ride on the Alpine Safari. Children took a seat on “Snowflake the Polar Bear,” “Jingle the Reindeer” and “Holly the Moose,” three large mechanized animals moseying slowly around the fountain on the Green.

Others gathered around a separate stage where Santa listened to everyone’s holiday wish list. On hand to assist Santa, Clara, the Nutcracker and the Mouse King from the Nutcracker Ballet greeted children. The ballet is currently being performed at the Shubert Theatre through Sunday.

Other attractions included a giant red mailbox with express letters to Santa, a stand selling balloons and glowing wands, and tours of the fire truck Santa rode in on.

Deb Casine said she and her daughter enjoyed the event.

“It’s a beautiful night, this is a very nice gathering the city put together,” Casine said.

The ceremony was presented by the City of New Haven Office of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees, and sponsored by the New Haven Register.

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