BRISTOL BOROUGH >> The borough kicked off the holiday season Friday night in Bristol style, welcoming Santa’s official arrival with music and the lighting of the town’s towering Christmas tree at the intersection of Mill and Radcliffe streets.
As youngsters, bundled up against the cold, jumped up and down in eager anticipation a crowd numbering in the hundreds counted down to the borough’s official tree lighting.
Suddenly a burst of light filled the intersection as the towering pine exploded with color and camera flashes swept across the crowd.
The Borough gave the honor of lighting this year’s tree to two Raising the Bar movers and shakers - lifelong resident Craig Whitaker and Mycle James Gorman of Spice & Company.
Whitaker is the one who first learned about the Small Business Revolution and encouraged Raising the Bar’s leader, Bill Pezza, to give it a shot. That shot landed the borough national recognition as the winner of the 2017 Small Business Revolution.
“No matter what event goes on in this town you’ll notice Craig’s involved in some capacity,” said Council President Ralph DiGuiseppe. “He has put his heart and soul into this town.”
And Gorman has been there every step of the way, working with Raising the Bar to bring an economic resurgence to the community, and especially to Mill Street, which has seen a surge in new business openings.
“Mycle moved into town five years ago. Since the day he moved in he has not stopped,” said DiGuiseppe. “He is tireless. He works on every event. This town owes both of these guys a great deal of gratitude for their hard work and their dedication.”
Pezza served as master of ceremonies for the tree lighting ceremony, an annual tradition dating back decades. Joining him on an outdoor stage set up at the base of the tree were Bristol Borough Mayor Joseph Saxton and DiGuiseppe.
“Wow. What a crowd. It is truly an honor to represent this town and see so many people come out tonight,” said DiGuiseppe. “It really shows what this town is made of.”
Also on hand to help Bristol welcome the season were US Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, State Senator Robert Tomlinson, State Rep. John Galloway and this year’s AOC Man of the Year Dave Harris.
Bristol’s own Tara Dougherty, home on break from Boston University where she is majoring in vocal performance, warmed up the crowd with a holiday medley that had everyone ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ and having a good time.
Pezza took the opportunity to thank Sue Perkins for donating this year’s tree, which he called “one of the nicest in recent memory.”
Pezza also thanked Greg Clark of GJC Electric for donating the 1500 new lights that were added to this year’s tree.
“We would not have been able to donate the lights if not for our awesome customers,” said Clark. “We love Bristol Borough and we love what’s going on in this town and we’re going to keep it going.”
Pezza also acknowledged Jim’s Tree Service for the removal and transport of the tree and the borough’s Public Works Department, which installed the tree.
To officially welcome Santa to the stage, Chester and Rosemarie Mignoni Szczuck led the gathering in singing, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
As a further enticement, Pezza led the crowd in chanting, “We want Santa ... We want Santa.”
The man of the hour soon appeared through the crowd led to the stage by the Bristol High School Cheerleaders as a huge cheer erupted from the crowd.
Santa joined Chester and Rosemarie Mignoni Szczuck as they sang Santa’s favorite song, “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”
Afterwards, at the Centre for the Arts at 308 Mill Street, Santa greeted long lines of children eager to share their Christmas sugarplum dreams and wishes.
In the hours leading up to the big event shoppers explored Mill Street’s eclectic and growing number of shops and businesses, from Trainpops Attic and Spice & Company to one of its newest additions, Angelina’s Bakery.
Many kept warm by sipping hot chocolate while they visited and took pictures of Ginger and Clarice, two Reindeer visiting Mill Street from Spruce Run Farm in Bloomsburg compliments of Farmers Insurance.