Lights, cameras, Santa. Those are elements that residents and visitors of Westminster have come to know and love at the start of the holiday season.
For the annual Miracle on Main Street celebration on Saturday, Nov. 24, the lights will be on the parade entries, the cameras will flash at the lighting of the Christmas tree at Locust Lane and Santa — well, he'll be just about everywhere.
Thousands of people are expected to attend events to launch the holiday season in Westminster, and more will come to the city over the course of the holidays.
"We're going with tradition," said Kristi Turgeon, of the Westminster Department of Recreation and Parks. "The whole town is ready."
Saturday's events kick off in the afternoon, when the Carroll Arts Council, 91 W. Main St., will open its doors for a free showing of the 1947 classic, "Miracle on 34th Street." The showing is open to all, with seating on a first come, first-served basis.
Immediately following the film, patrons are invited to have hot chocolate, spiced cider or peppermint tea while watching the evening's longest attraction — the Miracle on Main Street holiday electric parade.
The parade is expected to step off at 5 p.m., starting on Pennsylvania Avenue at Monroe Street, then flow down Main Street to Longwell Avenue, and on Longwell to East Middle School.
Several years ago the parade took on its "electric" personality, with dozens of lighted floats in addition to marching units, music groups and others.
The parade lasts about an hour, and then everyone is invited to gather at Locust Lane — about a block from the end of the parade route — for the tree lighting ceremony, at about 6 p.m. Mayor Kevin Utz will share top billing with Santa Claus to preside over the ceremony, with caroling and music by the Westminster Municipal Band.
Complimentary hot chocolate will be provided by the Gospel Spreading Church of God, of Union Bridge, and baked goods will be available for purchase.
Then, immediately following the tree lighting, the city's Santa's Treat activities will run until about 8:30 p.m. at the Westminster Library, directly across from Locust Lane. Santa will set up shop for the night in the library "train depot" area, and there will be games, crafts and activities, as well as a performance by children's entertainer Steve Gambrill.
Turgeon said the library location is new for Santa's Treat — in previous years, it was held in the Longwell Family Center, but "we're hoping this will be convenient. People can just walk across the street."
After his initial arrival on Saturday, Santa Claus will set up shop in his Santa House on Locust Lane for several sessions to hear children's wishes. Hours will be noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22.
In addition, the city will host its Starlight Shopping Night, when stores offer special deals and stay open late, on Friday, Dec. 7, 5 to 10 p.m.
For more information on the Miracle on Main Street events and other holiday happenings, call 410-848-6962, or go to http://www.westminstermd.gov/mainstreet/mainstreetholidayevent.html.