The New Haven Green filled with glimmering lights, bright colors and around 500 residents eager to start the holiday season with the Tree Lighting Ceremony Wednesday night.

The ceremony’s central attraction was a 50-foot Norway spruce, donated by the Beas family of Shelton. Representatives of the Office of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees, the two organizations that sponsored the event, lit the tree’s electric lights. A number of other events were planned around the tree lighting throughout the evening, catered to local families who flocked to the Green to enjoy the holiday spirit.

Children were able to sit on Santa Claus’ lap and get a free picture with him. Hay rides were also available around the Green. Another popular attraction was the carousel.

“They have everything the kids would want,” Barbara Perrelli, a New Haven native who has been attending the lighting ceremony for years, said.

Local groups performed before and after the lighting of the tree. The entire cast of the New Haven Ballet’s “Nutcracker” first took the stage, followed by other performers, including the Elm City Choir, the New Haven Chorale, Unity Boys Choir and Yale Gospel Choir.

The performances were a way to entertain the crowd and showcase local talent, Perrelli said.

“It’s good that we’re actually giving back to the New Haven community,” Thalyn George ’09, a member of the Yale Gospel Choir, said.

George said the concert was one of the few events the Gospel choir puts on for organizations outside Yale.

“It gives us the opportunity to get out of the Yale bubble,” he said.

The New Haven Police Department was on hand to control traffic, aid with pedestrian crossing, keep the peace, and make sure that everyone was having a good time, an NHPD officer said.

Despite the muddy ground — a result of the melting snow — and the long lines that residents had to endure before enjoying the attractions, Perrelli said the ceremony was a success.

“It’s a beautiful night for it,” she said.

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