The temperature was near freezing Saturday afternoon, yet Loyalsock Township resident Tom West thought it was completely appropriate to be cruising the township streets with the top down on his 1995 Chrysler LeBaron convertible.
West was not suffering a holiday stress-related breakdown. A member of the Susquehannock Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America, he and other club members were participating in Loyalsock Township's annual holiday parade, sponsored by the township volunteer fire company.
The event was followed by the 5th annual Sally Short's Holiday in the Park at the James Short Park on Northway Road.
RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Above, Santa arrives at Short Park Saturday by horse-drawn carriage.
West, who was wearing a Santa hat for the occasion, said he was not intimidated by the frigid weather.
"It's got heat," he said of his convertible, itself adorned for the parade with Christmas lights and ornaments.
Asked if he was in the Christmas spirit, West said, "Oh, yeah. I've got this hat on, don't I?"
The parade kicked off from the township high school and wound through adjacent neighborhood streets before turning onto Northway Road and heading to the park.
Residents lined the parade route, waved and exchanged holiday greetings with parade participants. Children with plastic shopping bags in hand waited anxiously for "walkers" carrying candy, which they distributed along the parade route.
West said he participates in the parade every year.
"It's fun being in this parade," he said. "You've got the top down, people are waving and they're having a good time and you see a lot of people you know."
"We've been doing this for years," said club president Herb Seltzer. "We average four to six cars in this parade every year.
"We like to be a part of the community," he said. "This particular parade is nice because we don't have to travel far to get our cars together, and it's Christmas, the last (parade) we are doing this year."
The Sally Short Holiday in the Park, sponsored by the township, featured food and snacks, a bonfire, horse-drawn wagon rides, holiday music by township school district students and former township director of parks and recreation Mike Piaskowski, and a visit by Santa, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.
As Rudolph and Frosty mingled with the crowd, Santa set up shop in the park gazebo to hear the Christmas wishes of local children.
Donna and Bob Armes and their grandson Joshua Armes, who huddled near the bonfire, said they were attending the event for the first time.
"Our son Loren's church, Bethel United Methodist, had a float in the parade," Donna Armes said. "We've lived in Loyalsock Township all our lives and thought we'd come and see the bonfire, the lights and everything."
Asked if she was in the Christmas spirit, Armes smiled and replied, "About half. Thanksgiving was just last week."
The township began the park festivities five years ago in honor of the late Sally Short, whose late husband James was long-time chairman of the township recreation board, said township director of parks and recreation Shannon Lukowsky.
The couple owned Jesco, an athletic apparel manufacturing company.
Sally Short left money to the township for the park and a small portion of that money was used to hold the first park event, Lukowsky said.
Since that time, donations from local residents and businesses have funded the event, she said.
The township has held a parade for many years. Once it began the Holiday in the Park event, the fire company took over the parade, Lukowsky said.
A highlight of the evening was township Supervisor Jeff Rauff's declaration for holiday lights installed through the park to be turned on.
As the colorful lights were illuminated, the crowd in the park let out a collective "woo" of approval.
"This kicks off the holiday season - kicks off the mood," Rauff said. "It's getting bigger every year. As people and businesses contribute (to the event) we'll be able to put more lights up and do more."
Rauff said the township takes great pride in its parks and the way they are maintained. He credited Lukowsky for her work with the parks and recreation programs.
Lukowsky also "put a lot of effort" into the holiday program, he said.
The lights will be on each night from dusk to 11 p.m. through Jan. 1.