By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
The annual lighting of the Christmas tree on the Green will ring in an evening of merrymaking Saturday.
On a nearby stage on Main Street, the festivities will kick off at 5 p.m. with renditions of holiday carols performed by Michael Martone and Friends, followed by Yuletide classics spun by Martone.
At 6 p.m., Mayor Edward M. O’Brien will greet revelers and announce the four selected artists of his Christmas card campaign: Bailey Middle School seventh-graders Jasmin Cintron and Llianay Romaro and eighth-graders Eveleen Jiang and Sofia Lora.
The West Haven High School cheerleading team will then escort Santa and Mrs. Claus and their elves to the stage, where they will help O’Brien and his Christmas card designers use a “special smartphone app” to set the tree aglow.
The Christmas tree is encircled by five smaller evergreen trees adorned with fluorescent-colored lights.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will meet visitors and pose for snapshots in their workshop until 9 p.m.
For the first time, organizers will offer the photos with Santa as a free digital download online.
From Tuesday to Jan. 8, people can view and download their photos on the city’s Flickr webpage at https://goo.gl/EkLxZz. The internet address is case-sensitive.
Just steps from Santa’s workshop, boys and girls can drop off their wish lists at St. Nick’s official U.S. Postal Service mailbox.
The ceremony is sponsored by the USAlliance Federal Credit Union, Marenna Amusements and the West Haven Voice.
According to organizers, the elves will give out “magic reindeer food” to help Santa and Mrs. Claus return to the North Pole.
Huge electric snowflakes will decorate The John C. Ireland Bandstand, and Victorian-era streetlamps bedecked with angels blowing on trumpets will illuminate the walkways.
Along with hayrides, children can enjoy a variety of amusement rides. They can also fish in a “pond” for prizes.
The activities are free, but people are asked to bring nonperishable items for the West Haven Emergency Assistance Task Force, which provides food for residents in need.
Volunteers from the Chamber of Commerce will hand out hot chocolate, and vendors will sell food and novelties.
The vendors will include the Cappetta’s Italian Imports & Pizza truck.
If it rains, the lighting will go on at 5 p.m. Monday.