BY DAVID ANDERSON, firstname.lastname@example.org
9:39 AM EST, December 9, 2013
Christmas, along with a sharp chill, was in the air in Aberdeen Saturday as residents turned out for the city's annual Christmas Street Celebration.
The 2013 Christmas Street Celebration included the annual holiday parade and tree lighting; this year's festival included a German Christmas Market in Festival Park following the tree lighting.
"Welcome to our city and our Christmas Street Celebration!" Mayor Mike Bennett said from the park's bandstand as children eagerly waited to see Santa Claus, who stood near the mayor with his wife, Mrs. Claus.
Santa and Mrs. Claus rode in the parade through downtown Aberdeen along West Bel Air Avenue on their way to Festival Park. Santa and the mayor then lit two Christmas trees and the lights strung around trees throughout the park.
"Thank you for being with us," Bennett told the crowd. "Have a great time!"
The mayor also announced that the city's memorial to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the centerpiece of which is being constructed, is expected to be installed in the park next spring.
There were about 96 entrants in the parade, according to Caroline Curry, chair of the city's Appearance and Preservation Committee, which was responsible for putting on Saturday's events.
Participants included marching bands, owners of vintage cars and community organizations such as the Girl Scouts.
Vi Ripken, mother of Baltimore Orioles Hall-of-Famer and Aberdeen native Cal Ripken Jr., was the grand marshal.
Visitors to Festival Park could sample the wares of a handful of vendors as families waited to see Santa. Each child was given a number and they were called up in groups to the bandstand to sit on Santa's lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.
Bennett said the vendors were an idea based on German Christmas festivals.
Visitors were also treated to hot chocolate and cookies.
Lauren Stouten, of Aberdeen, and her daughter Cali, age 5, snacked and sipped as they waited to see Santa.
Cali, a member of Girl Scout Troop 519, of Aberdeen, also participated in the parade.
Stouten said her daughter usually takes part in Bel Air's Christmas parade.
"This is the first year we've done this one [in Aberdeen] and I have to say, we're pretty impressed," she said.
Stouten was also glad her daughter could get one-on-one time with Santa after the parade.
In addition to drinking hot chocolate, visitors to the park could stand by fire pits to keep warm.
Ramiyah Graham, age 7, stood around a fire pit with her parents, Brenda and Frank Graham, of Aberdeen, and her brother, Brandon Evans, age 12.
Ramiyah also took part in the parade with her fellow members of Girl Scout Troop 519.
"Seeing people, all my friends," she said when asked about her favorite parts of being in the parade.
"It was very nice," Brenda Graham said. "It was actually our first time seeing the Aberdeen parade."
Brandon chimed in with his favorites from the parade.
"My favorite part about it was seeing all my friends, all the cars," he said.
Ramiyah said she wanted a Zoomer robotic dog for Christmas, as well as a Glitzi Globe snow globe.
Brandon's wish list was longer: a PlayStation 4, Beats headphones, video games, including Skylanders SWAP Force and Call of Duty: Ghosts, plus rubber bands to make rubber band bracelets.
Brenda Graham talked about being able to bring the family out for a community event.
"We were able to get out and spend time together, even though it's a little bit cold," she said.
"But this helps," she said of the fire pit.