A longstanding local holiday tradition based on the simple premise of a night of free fun for a family returns to Arbutus on Saturday, Nov. 28, as the Arbutus Business and Professional Association presents the annual Christmas tree lighting and the arrival of Santa Claus.
The event in and around the Arbutus Town Hall on Stevens Avenue, across from the Ice Cream Cottage, is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
There will be kids games, a moon bounce, face painting and crafts available for all the younger visitors to enjoy while they wait to hear the sound of horns and sirens from a long line of emergency vehicles that mark the arrival of Santa Claus on a fire engine from the nearby Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department.
There is no charge for any of the activities, which are courtesy of The Y in Ellicott City and ReMax New Beginnings, nor the popcorn and juice, which are courtesy of Arbutus Auto Body.
"We do it all for free. A lot of people donate their time and their stuff," said Jeff Utzinger, the longtime organizer of the event. "It's all for the kids.
"The Arbutus Community Association helps us out a lot, with the hall, and they sponsor the tree lighting," he said.
"It's a good amount of people. People help me out with the planning. I got eight friends who are working the games," he said.
Each young guest will also receive a free gift bag that will contain a coloring book, crayons and a candy cane, Utzinger said.
Once Santa and his helpers settle into his station near the town hall, the area's youngsters will have the opportunity to deliver their special requests for what they want him to deliver to them on Dec. 25.
"What I hear from the people who like our Santa House, is that they like that there's no pressure to buy a picture [of their child on Santa's lap]. They can bring their own cameras," Utzinger said.