Santa's First Stop

Cranberry hosts holiday event

November 20, 2021 Cranberry Local News

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Averi Morrison, 6, and her brother, Kolter, 4, lead their family through the Cranberry Township Municipal Center during the Santa's First Stop celebration Friday.

CRANBERRY TWP — It may be the middle of November, but the Christmas season has begun in Cranberry Township.

Jolly old St. Nick rode into town atop an antique fire engine, making his way through a horde of adults and kids alike to light the township's white-lit Christmas tree during Santa's First Stop on Friday night.

It was the first First Stop in Cranberry since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic-related cancellation of last year's visit. And residents made their way out in droves to see Father Christmas for the first time in 2021.

The Cranberry Township Municipal Center's parking lot was stuffed to the antlers, and inside the building there was hardly room to move, with children and their parents milling about between stations set up to help guests enjoy the kickoff of Christmas.

Above, Izzy Urbanek, 5, pulls the switch to light the Cranberry Township Christmas tree Friday at the township's Santa's First Stop event. Below, Emmy Rostan, 6, points to a Lego train in the display during Santa's First Stop festivities at the Cranberry Township Municipal Center.

Friday night's highlight came shortly after 7 p.m., when Santa Claus made his way through the Meeder development atop the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company's 1928 Pirsch engine. Cranberry officials helped lead guests in song to greet the jolly man, with choruses of “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Comin' to Town” being shouted toward Santa as he made his way into the municipal center.

After the countdown, St. Nick brought light to the evergreen tree east of the Rochester Road building.

And while Cranberry officials asked everyone not to crowd Santa when he was finished, some children couldn't contain their excitement, rushing to meet the man who makes Christmas.

Santa waves to Cranberry area residents at the township’s Santa’s First Stop event Friday.

St. Nick's visit wasn't the only event to happen Friday night, however. Children shuffled from station to station to make goodies and watch several Lego train sets “choo-choo” their way throughout the municipal building.

Lauren Watson said she took her 4-year-old daughter to several of those stations as she decorated a Christmas ornament and received a firefighter's hat.

Outside the building, a Cranberry Township EMS ambulance opened its doors not for patients but for toys, with the ambulance company again taking donations for Toys for Tots. It wasn't as full Friday as it had been in 2019, Mandy

Emmy Rostan, 6, points to a Lego Train in the display setup during Santa’s First Stop festivities in the Cranberry Township building Friday.

Cousins, the service's community outreach coordinator, said, in part because they'd been accepting donations since July.

Regardless, Cousins said, “It's nice to be back.”

The charitable giving opportunities, the food trucks and reindeer out front, and the crafting stations inside weren't the main highlight of the event, though — that, of course, was Santa's grand entrance.

“(My favorite part was) her seeing Santa and Mrs. Claus,” Watson said.

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