PORTVILLE — While the pole decorations have been lit for a couple of weeks on Main Street, and most people seem to have their decorations up, Portville officially kicked off the holiday season Saturday night in Pioneer Park.

“I am so glad that things really came together for Portville’s Lighting of the Park Ceremony on Saturday,” said Tony Evans, Portville mayor. “Many citizen volunteers helped chairman and trustee Joe McLarney, and our excellent DPW staff, make the village and parks look so nice.”

A crowd of about 250 community residents filled the park, hovering on the paved area near the gazebo.

Adults and children lined up for the free refreshments while they waited for the event to kick off.

“We were … pleased to revive an old tradition in using the PCS portable trailer concession stand,” Evans said. “We were able to serve free coffee, hot chocolate, fruit drinks and homemade cookies from local bakers.”

The crowd was also entertained by Christmas carols before the ceremony.

Performing were Tim Hollamby and his sister, Maddie Hollamby, both of Portville, and their nephew, Jonathan Aumiller, 8, of Shinglehouse, Pa., who said with confidence that he was “really good at it.”

The Girl Scout gave an assist to the event as well and shortly after a welcome by Evans at 5 p.m., it was the time for oohs and aahs. Throwing the switch on thousands of lights in Pioneer Park were Kelly Unverdorben, coach, and the Portville Central School girls volleyball team.

Once the lights went on, the hum in the crowd got a little louder as expectant faces looked toward North Main Street, where a police car was sitting.

Janna Worthington, 6, was there to see Santa, who Worthington said was her cousin. With her mother shaking her head no behind the youngster, she was quick to get in that she wanted a bunk bed and an X-Box for Christmas.

In what surely felt like forever to Janna and the other youngsters in the crowd, a Portville Fire Department truck was finally spotted heading toward the park. As Santa disembarked from his ride, the children in the park rushed down the center sidewalk and across the yards to welcome him.

A line quickly formed once Santa and his elf, Susan, who was handing out candy canes, got to the gazebo. Aumiller was first in line, and quick to tell Santa he was looking for painting supplies and arts and crafts materials.

During the event, several drawings. Raffled were an 18-inch handmade wreath, and $150 in gift cards from local Portville restaurants, including Myrge; Fyre ‘N Ice; Portville Subway; Park and Shop; Red’s and Trudy’s; and Sprague’s. The gift cards were 100% paid for with local grant support at no expense to the village.

“Hopefully a new tradition was added as I was remembering a special Christmas from many years ago as I also grew up in a small village,” Evans recounted. “I recall how the downtown merchants distributed tickets and there was a drawing for a Christmas ham, turkey or food items when they ‘lit the town.’ It’s that kind of ‘win-win good will’ that supports us all.”

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