It was a bright night despite the cold at the City of Swift Current Tree Lighting.
Market Square was packed to the brim with folks coming out to celebrate the start of the Christmas season. Thousands were packed into the core of downtown Swift Current as the City lit up the Christmas tree, enjoying community, music, and free hot chocolate.
Counting down the tree lighting for the City was Deputy Mayor, Ryan Switzer. Even though his kids have grown, he enjoyed coming to another year's ceremonies and seeing all the families enjoy the spectacle.
"You hear a lot about culture in different communities and what that means to certain people," said Switzer. "It's been a pleasure watching that downtown Christmas tree lighting go from an event where there's a few people that showed up, maybe part of a choir would be there, to this giant piece of Swift Current culture."
A big part of that culture was Santa Clause himself riding in on Swift Current Fire Department Fire Truck. Old Saint Nick made his appearance and sat with kids on his lap as they lined up all the way down the block for a chance to pass on their Christmas wishes.
"It's different things to different people," said Switzer. "For some people, it's the chance to have your little one go meet Santa Claus for the first time and tell them what they want for Christmas. For some folks that's going and seeing the Broncos there and maybe getting an autograph."
Another big draw for families was the children's choir. They sang classic carols and filled the air with songs sparkling with joy and merriment.
"I always enjoy the Central School Choir," said Switzer. "There's just something about kids singing Christmas carols that always feels like the true start to the holiday season."
Getting in on the singing for the evening was the Swift Current Broncos, who were out in force to watch their rookie members sing their less-than-polished version of jingle bells.
Not to be missed was the horse-drawn wagon rides. The line for these ponies was almost as long as the one for Santa. Families packed in tight to get a trip around the downtown and up to Memorial Park.
Firefighters were showing children the ins and outs of their fire engine, showing off all the cool dials, switches, and various implements inside the big cabin. This was the same truck that Santa himself rode in on, making it a popular venue for the youth.
"Swift Current Fire Department acted as the official transportation for Santa Claus," said Switzer. "Which I know Santa always really appreciates."
Also out making waves in the crowd were the paramedics and personnel from Hutch Ambulance. They were doing a donation drive for the Salvation Army and for the Family Resource Centre. It was their goal to fill the ambulance all the way up with donations.
The Salvation Army along with the Sea Cadets were ringing bells and taking donations, inviting the charitable to share in their causes.
And of course, the tree itself was loaded with individuals taking photos, laughing, smiling, and dancing the night away.
Finally, the chilliest amongst everyone could be found making their way to the Innovation Federal Credit Union for cookies, cider, and hot chocolate being served by Golden West Broadcasting.
"The hot chocolate was a very welcome necessity," said Switzer. "Thank you Golden West for always providing that. Some years it is needed more than others, and this year the hot chocolate definitely went down well."
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