By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
The annual lighting of West Haven’s Christmas tree on the Green will herald an evening of merrymaking Saturday.
The holiday festival will commence at 4 p.m. with the national anthem sung by West Haven High School senior Madelyn Roche.
DJ Sonya will play holiday-themed music while costumed Christmas characters and Victorian-clad carolers entertain families around the downtown park.
Radio personality Brian Smith will serve as the master of ceremonies for the event, which is presented by the city, ArtsWest CT, the First Congregational Church and West Haven United, an organization aimed at bringing the city’s volunteer groups together.
The four-hour festival will feature an inflatable Santa’s village and craft stations on the 5-acre Green, where children can make marshmallow snowman ornaments, decorate wooden ornaments, write letters to Santa, and make cards for U.S. troops overseas and those at the West Haven VA Medical Center.
The Yuletide festivities will continue at 4:30 p.m. with holiday classics performed by the Indonesian Angklung Community led by Dabar Ratupenu.
The musical group will collectively play an angklung, an Indonesian instrument made of a varying number of bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame, with each musician playing a single note. The tubes are carved to have a resonant pitch when struck and tuned to octaves, similar to Western handbells.
At 5 p.m., the West Haven High dance team will perform, followed by the Top Hat Dance Academy a half-hour later.
At 6 p.m., Mayor Nancy R. Rossi will greet revelers from a portable stage on the Main Street side of the Green. The West Haven High cheerleading team will then escort Santa and Mrs. Claus to the stage, where they will join Rossi and her special guests to set the tree aglow.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive in the West Haven Fire Department’s 1935 Mack pump firetruck.
The city’s official Christmas tree is flanked by a smaller evergreen tree that will glow with fluorescent-colored lights.
Huge electric snowflakes will decorate The John C. Ireland Bandstand, and Victorian lampposts bedecked with angels blowing on trumpets will illuminate the walkways.
The decorated park will include a Touch-a-Truck and inflatable attractions that youngsters can go in and have pictures taken.
Before returning to the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus will meet children and pose for snapshots until 8 p.m.
Just steps from Santa’s workshop, boys and girls can drop off wish lists at St. Nick’s official U.S. Postal Service mailbox.
West Haven United will hold a paper chain contest and award prizes. Shoreline Wellness Center will give out informational materials.
Along with hayrides, kids can ride in a vintage West Shore firetruck provided by Baybrook Remodelers Inc.
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 First Church will sell chicken tenders, french fries, hot dogs, coffee and cookies, and volunteers from West Haven United will sell hot chocolate, water and prepackaged snacks. Kettle King will sell kettle corn.
If it rains, the lighting will go on at 5 p.m. Monday.