KENNETT SQUARE >> All eyes turned westward on State Street Friday night as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus drove up in an antique car at the end of the Holiday Lights Parade. When they finally arrived, they were surrounded by children, who rushed to touch them and later lined up to tell them their Christmas wishes.

In this town the loves its parades, the enthusiasm was at its usual high pitch as hundreds of parents, children and other varieties of bundled up spectators lined the sidewalks, patronized the shops and cheered on the entertainers along the way.

This year there was plenty of music, and shops were opened into the evening after the procession finished.

One thing missing was the equine pair of Jake and Jasper, who have for many years have trotted the route and pulled the carriage that delivers Santa and his wife. Main Street Manager Mary Hutchens said there was not a problem with the horses, and they will indeed be around for Sunday afternoon carriage rides.

Quite a few of the floats were elaborately covered with lights, as were the fire trucks and individual marchers. The members of the Kennett High School Marching Band had strings of lights draped about the drums and sousaphones. Even the giant mushroom of lights that drew crowds to the town last New Year’s Eve made its way along the parade route, inviting folks to come back again this year for another drop.

To set the tone for the evening, Borough Council President Leon Spencer led singing in the streets, and then the dancers from Longwood Performing Arts presented several Rockefeller Center-type routines with seasonal garb and a lot of high kicking.

At one point, a man dressed in a Santa suit marched part way up the parade route and gave out candy to some youngsters. He was accompanied by a couple of friends dressed as elves who were heard to say, “The kids are going to be surprised when they see a second Santa Claus tonight.” He then disappeared into the crowd.

But there was no doubt who the real Santa characters were, as Fran and Andrea Durynski in costume stopped at midtown and counted down to light the Christmas tree.

Just a few minutes after that, it was hard to tell whether their arrival was being heralded by fire sirens or if it was the real thing. It turned out that there was a real fire call, and the fire trucks rolled into town, pulled up to the edge of the spectators with sirens blaring and made a detour jog onto North Broad Street to avoid the crowd and proceed on their way.

Mr. and Mrs. Santa will arrive at West Grove via fire truck on Thursday, and they are scheduled to make an appearance at the Kennett Symphony Christmas concert at the high school on Saturday night, Dec. 6.

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