West Haven to light Christmas tree on the Green on Saturday night — with hayrides, hot chocolate, visits with Santa

WEST HAVEN — The West Haven Green will fill with families singing Christmas carols, taking hayrides, sipping hot chocolate and visiting Santa’s Workshop Saturday evening as Mayor Ed O’Brien and a host of helpers flick the “switch” to light the Christmas tree.

The fun is set to begin at 5 p.m. with renditions of Christmas carols and other holiday songs by Michael Martone and Friends on a mobile stage along Main Street, followed by recorded Yuletide classics spun by Martone, organizers said in a release.

At 6 p.m., O’Brien will greet revelers and introduce the four selected artists of his Christmas card campaign: Bailey Middle School seventh-graders Jasmin Cintron and Llianay Romaro and eighth-graders Eveleen Jiang and Sofia Lora.

The West Haven High School cheerleading team will then escort Santa and Mrs. Claus and their elves to the stage, where they will help O’Brien and his Christmas card designers use a “special smartphone app” to light up the tree, the release said.

The Christmas tree on the Green is surrounded by five smaller evergreen trees decorated with colored lights.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will meet visitors and pose for snapshots in their workshop until 9 p.m. For the first time, organizers will offer photos with Santa as a free digital download online.

From Nov. 28 to Jan. 8, people can view and download their photos on the city’s Flickr webpage at https://goo.gl/EkLxZz. The internet address is case-sensitive.

Just steps away from Santa’s workshop, boys and girls will be able to drop off wish lists at St. Nick’s official U.S. Postal Service mailbox.

Volunteers from the West Haven Chamber of Commerce will hand out hot chocolate and vendors will sell food and novelties. The vendors will include the Cappetta’s Italian Imports & Pizza truck.

Meanwhile, the First Congregational Church of West Haven will play holiday songs on a carillon.

The tree-lighting ceremony is sponsored by the USAlliance Federal Credit Union, Marenna Amusements and the West Haven Voice.

Santa’s elves will give out “magic reindeer food” to help the Clauses return to the North Pole, organizers said. Huge electric snowflakes will decorate The John C. Ireland Bandstand and Victorian-era streetlamps adorned with angels blowing on trumpets will illuminate the walkways.

Along with hayrides, children will be able to enjoy a variety of amusement rides. They can also fish in a “pond” for prizes.

All activities are free, but people are asked to bring nonperishable items to donate to the West Haven Emergency Assistance Task Force, which provides food for residents in need.

If it rains, the lighting will go on at 5 p.m. Monday.