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Canton celebrates the start of the Christmas season

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CANTON — Christmas came to Canton on Friday with the return of the annual Festival of Lights in the village green.

Santa, carols and Christmas lights were all part of the spectacle, along with other costumed characters like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.

Parents, children and grandchildren lined up to sit on Santa’s lap and ride in a horse-drawn wagon decked out in jingle bells and Christmas lights through the Canton streets.

Santa handed out books and candy canes, donated by local businesses, to the children while Canton singer Diane Foote entertained the waiting crowds with a Christmas carol sing along.

“We’re here because of Santa,” said Lindsey A. White, who has made the festival an annual tradition for her family. Her children made sure to be on their best behavior when asking Santa for their holiday wishes.

“I wanted a lot of tons of spy stuff,” said Lindsey’s 5-year-old son Cooper R. White.

The annual festival is a 28-year-old tradition, when the streets of Canton are adorned with lit wreaths while two large pine trees draped with Christmas lights stand in the village green.

“Kids get excited, the trees are lit up, downtown is all lit up,” said Brenda L. Snow, a member of the Holiday of Lights committee.

Visitors could come in from the cold and snack on cookies and hot drinks in the First Presbyterian Church.

The threat of rain nearly drove the event indoors, but the sky was clear in time for the tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m.

Timothy Hatch, of Double H Percherons farm in Potsdam, kept busy all night providing wagon rides.

“This is a great deal,” he said.

Travis F. DiPalma, of Norwood, took his baby son Parker T. DiPalma to see Santa for the first time. Parker was born on New Year’s Day, so this will be his first Christmas.

“He missed Santa by a week last year,” Mr. DiPalma said.

Visitors said the yearly festival is a good way to begin the holiday season, even if the weather wasn’t picture-perfect.

“This is the first one I went to,” said Joseph A. Marsh. “I wish there was a little snow, but it’s great. It gets you in the spirit.”

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