Friday, Dec. 10, 2010 | 10 p.m.
Map of Henderson Events Plaza
200 S Water St, Henderson
With a crowd of families and friends huddled around them, Santa Claus and Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen flipped an electrical switch from “off” to “on.”
As the 30-foot-tall Christmas tree, decorated with yellow lights and gold and silver ornaments, was illuminated, the crowd cheered.
Hundreds were in attendance Friday night at the Henderson Events Plaza and Convention Center, 200 S. Water St., to celebrate the holidays during the free annual WinterFest celebration.
The celebration kicked off Thursday night as the Henderson Symphony Orchestra performed a concert of holiday music.
“We are a family oriented community and I really believe it shows that right here today with all the families and friends that are here,” the mayor said.
Hafen said the “WinterFest” stamp has been on the celebration since 2003, but the event, including the tree lighting, has been carried out for as long as he can remember.
“In these economic times, there really is something that you just kind of need to wrap yourself around and feel good about. And this is it,” Hafen said. “I tell ya, the people are in fine spirits down here every single year. It’s wonderful.”
Besides the Ferris wheel and the chance to meet Santa — a meeting families lined up for across the plaza — there were pony rides, a petting zoo, a gingerbread house contest and a snow machine blasting snow at the top of every hour.
“I’m excited for the Ferris wheel, because it’s big and shiny,” 11-year-old Brittany Hopkins said. “And the petting zoo. Last year, there was a goat eating my mom’s coat.”
Brittany’s father, Chris Hopkins, said they also enjoyed the event because it reminded them of their hometown of Minneapolis, where the weather is cold and there’s snow on the ground.
For another family, born and raised in Henderson, the event was an effort to build a holiday tradition. Steven and Darcy Steckler attended with their 18-month-old son, Tyler, and newborn son, Mason.
The couple said they have attended other Henderson events, such as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Arts Fest, but this was their first time at WinterFest.
“It’s nice to set family traditions,” Steven Steckler said. “It also gets the community involved. You meet people or see old friends. Whenever you’re out in Henderson, it seems like it’s a small enough town where a lot of people know each other.”
WinterFest continues Saturday with the parade beginning at 10 a.m. and a performance of the play “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at 6 p.m.