Christmas festivities kick off this weekend in Salisbury

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As the song goes, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.

Fittingly, three lively pre-season events are planned, all of them promising Santa Claus and radiance.

On Saturday, Winter Wonderland of Lights and the annual Wicomico Yacht Club boat parade are planned.

The annual tree lighting ceremony will be Dec. 4.

At Winter Wonderland, at City Park, hot chocolate will be sold and there will be entertainment. It starts at 5 p.m. and the lights will be activated at 6.

Students from Feet of Fire dance school, singer Zoe Sheller and the duo of Rachel Bailey and Jackson Desjardins will perform. Guests can take a camera to get photos with Santa. Children 10 and younger will have an opportunity to sign up for a chance to switch on the lights.

Scarves will be collected for Warm 4 You, a grassroots project whose members wrap trees with scarves for the homeless and others in need.

Radio station Q105 will broadcast live.

This is the 10th year the Winter Wonderland of Lights Committee has hosted the event.

Lights will remain on from dusk until midnight through the first of January.

For more information call 410-430-1553.

The boat parade will feature more than 20 vessels, lit and garnished for the holidays. Starting time is around 5 at the yacht club. Boats will arrive Downtown around 7.

“All the boats will be decorated. There will be lights blinking and flashing. Santa will be there. We always have Santa. He’ll be on board of one of the boats,” said Scott McCurdy, longtime participant in the parade.

During the parade, dozens of cartons of toys will be unloaded and donated to Toys for Tots, when boats stop at the marina.

This is the fifth year boaters have partnered with Toys for Tots, he said, explaining members started collecting toys earlier this month.

“Two or three boats will deliver the toys to representatives of the Marine Corps Reserves who will be waiting at the Salisbury Marina. We’ll unload them right there. We had over 500 toys last year and we’d like to do better this year. We also get cash donations and that money is used to buy gifts for older kids. We get wristwatches, basketballs, soccer balls, things like that for the older kids,” he said.

Once the toys are in the hands of the Marines, the fleet will head back down the river and return to the yacht club around 9 p.m., McCurdy said.

“The boat parade starts at the Yacht Club in Allen and runs up the river to downtown Salisbury to West Main Street. You can see the boats anywhere along the river. A lot of places have public access. There are places on Riverside Drive. You can see them near the marina, at Brew River,” McCurdy said.

“It’s just a great event for anybody who wants to go out and watch it. Kids love it. There are parties all up and down the river with bonfires. You see families, adults, children, everybody. There will even be people shooting off fireworks. It’s a lot of fun. Just a great event,” McCurdy said.

The annual tree lighting ceremony, a formerly popular gathering that faded away, then was revived three years ago, will offer new and favorite events this year.

Planned for 5 p.m. Dec. 4 on the Downtown Plaza, it will feature, for the first time, Children’s Holiday Crafts, where little ones can fashion Christmas ornaments from buttons.

For the second year, there will be a wreath decorating contest. Those who buy a wreath in advance, for $30, will have it delivered. Each wreath will be individually decorated at home,  then photos of them will be posted on Facebook. The photo that receives the most likes will be declared the winner.

The successful wreath artist will win a $25 gift card from Main Roots Coffee, said Scott Malone of Farmers Insurance, the company that is sponsoring the tree lighting. To buy a wreath, call 443-210-2883.

Malone resurrected the tree lighting, which used to be held every year on the Plaza before being  discontinued, because he remembered how much he and his family enjoyed it when he was a boy.

His father, Gene Malone, who worked for M&T Bank on the Plaza, sponsored it decades ago. Now his 2-year-old will enjoy it, and, next year, a new baby, who’s due in April.

Santa will be inside First Shore Federal from 6:30 to 9 p.m. A food truck will sell hot dogs, sandwiches, chicken tenders and French fries.

The band The Home Malones will present Christmas music. Elementary school choirs will sing and students from Feet of Fire dance academy will perform.

Last year, 1,500 people were there to see the huge tree, donated by P&J Tree

Farm, be lit into radiance.

“It’s very nostalgic for me,” Malone said.

“My dad used to run it. I remember his bank was on the Plaza. He used to go with my two brothers and my mom and me. We would go hang out in his office in the afternoon and then we would all go outside to watch the tree lighting. They had food and hot chocolates,” Malone said.

“I want to recreate that type of event for my family. And we’ve been able to do that.”

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