By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
9:00 PM EST, November 24, 2012
A crowd of about 75 people braved cold and blustery weather conditions Saturday night for this small western Washington County town’s annual Christmas tree lighting.
Tyler and Maryann Johnson of Warfordsburg, Pa., brought their 4-year-old daughter, Alexis, to Joseph Hancock Jr. Primitive Park.
“This is our first time,” Johnson’s mother said as they waited in a small line to meet Santa Claus, who arrived on a firetruck just before a large fir tree was lighted in the park.
Alexis said she wanted a red Ninja Turtle when asked what she wanted for Christmas.
Johnson said she was hoping her daughter would be brave enough to sit on Santa’s lap for the first time this year.
“Usually, she sits on my lap and I sit on Santa,” Johnson said, laughing.
Heather Littleton of Hancock, who brought her 4-year-old daughter, Cheridan, said she didn’t realize the tree lighting was Saturday until driving by the park Saturday night.
Her daughter said she wanted “the biggest Furby in the world” and Bratzillaz dolls for Christmas.
After the Johnsons’ daughter and several other children met Santa, aka Bob Barnhart, members of Girl Scout Troop 40613 in Hancock handed them a few treats. Hot cider and hot chocolate also was served.
Troop leader Tammy Fox said the tree lighting event has been “penciled in” as part of the group’s community service efforts each year.
Now in its third year, the tree lighting is a project of Hancock in Motion, a town-sanctioned group that formed a few years ago to promote events for the community’s benefit for little or no cost, said Tim Smith, president of Hancock in Motion and a town council member.
The tree, more than 20 feet tall, came from a tree farm owned by Ray O. Mellot, Smith said.
“Next year, we’re shooting for 30 (feet),” Smith said.
Smith said Hancock In Motion aims to grow the event, which featured a parade for the first two years, but that was nixed due to a lack of participation.
“Each year, we’re going to keep adding something to it,” Smith said.
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