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Santa comes to North Attleborough for tree lighting

Santa Claus waves from NAFD’s Engine 3 as he goes down Elm Street for the annual Tree Lighting Event with Santa on Nov. 29. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

Not even a global pandemic will keep Santa Claus from coming to town.

Ol’ Saint Nick arrived in North Attleborough on Sunday, Nov. 29, for the annual Tree Lighting with Santa, although the event had to take a much different shape in the face of coronavirus. It usually includes a parade with floats, dancers, marching bands, and much more. Unfortunately, this had to be sidelined in favor of a socially distant option.

And so, Santa arrived via North Attleborough Fire Department’s Engine 3 to applause and cheers, traveling down East and onto Elm, arriving at the Town Common. He ascended a makeshift podium and, mic in hand, proclaimed a Merry Christmas to one and all, waving to people as they drove by. Many were excited to see Kris Kringle, honking horns and waving. Several of the cars were decorated for the season with lights, reindeer antlers, and even a large Christmas inflatable.

On the common, festive music filled the air and people gathered to see Santa. Many similar hats, necklaces of holiday lights, or antlers. Volunteers from the Park and Recreation Department were there as well to assist Santa, some dressed in their own Christmas costumes.

Layla Baker and her children danced excitedly to the music. She said they attend every year, and in 2019, her daughter Eva danced with members of the Encore Dance Academy. Baker said her house is already in the spirit of the season, with decorations galore and a Christmas tree in each of the children’s rooms.

We feel like it’s a part of our lives,” she said.

Santa chats with Farrah, Noelle, and Vivian Chniouli at the annual Tree Lighting with Santa on Sunday, Nov. 29. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

April Chniouli and her children Farrah, Noelle, Vivian, and Amelle waited to meet Santa, even giving him a letter to the North Pole. Farrah said her favorite song is “Jingle Bell Rock,” and this year she wants a unicorn or a cat.

We feel like it’s ushering in Christmas,” said April.

The parade is run by the Downtown Associates of North Attleborough, and also included a food collection for Betty’s Angels. Following Santa’s greeting, the group moved to the gazebo on the common, where they eagerly awaited the tree lighting. State Rep. Betty Poirier, who runs Betty’s Angels, said the event had to look a little different this year, but it still happened. She added that no matter what, North Attleborough always steps up.

I know the New Year will give us some sort of freedom,” she said. “Take pleasure in what you have.”

Town Manager Michael Borg and Town Council President Keith Lapointe also had words of support for the audience. Borg said that in times like these, one can change their attitude when the circumstances are set. He was grateful to the people who run the parade, and to those who came out to show their holiday spirit.

The trees on the town common were lit the evening of Nov. 29, concluding the annual Tree Lighting with Santa. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

Lapointe said that 2020 has shown the importance of perspective, and though isolation and separation have done some damage, people can find new ways to come together. He spoke to Tony Calcia, who passed away earlier this year. Calcia was known for his dedication to North Attleborough, working with the Park and Rec Department, followed by the YMCA, School Committee, and as a volunteer football coach.

Laughter and spirit came from such a kind man,” said Lapointe.

Of course, Santa had some festive words for the families. He thanked everyone for being there and wished them a Merry Christmas.

A lot of people helped,” he said. “That’s how it happens.”

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