Toddler helps Santa light Christmas tree

STATE COLLEGE — Three-year old Breccan Mitchell was the lucky child who helped Santa light this year’s tree in downtown State College! The entire crowd counted down as Mitchell and Santa worked their holiday magic, turning on over 5,000 lights that adorned the tree.

“The tree lighting ceremony is a wonderful community event, where people come together with their loved ones, sing carols, and drink hot cocoa,” explained Irene Miller, Executive Director of the Downtown State College Improvement District (DSCID).

Mitchell and many other children donated items in order to enter their names in a drawing to help Santa. Together, they donated 38 toys to Centre County Toys for Tots and 113 non-perishable items to the State College Area Food Bank.

“During this season of giving, it’s wonderful to see our youngest community members giving back,” added Miller.

Local Marines were on-hand to thank the attendees for their donations.

Jeff Brown emceed the event, along with musical group and certified Santa-trackers, Dan and Galla.

The Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania’s ballerinas took the stage to delight the crowd with a selection from their upcoming performance of The Nutcracker. Other holiday favorites were performed by the State College Area High School’s saxophone quartet.

Attendees were bundled up and kept warm with hot cocoa and hot apple cider donated by Webster’s Bookstore CafÈ and Irving’s. Insomnia Cookies were also a very popular item, as well as candy from the Lion’s Club.

The evening’s decorations were a collaborative effort. The State College Borough positioned and decorated the tree, while the Pennsylvania State University’s Office of Physical Plant donated a crew to decorate the smaller trees along Allen Street. The Clean Team from the DSCID helped to hang the wreaths on the light poles along downtown streets.

Santa’s sleigh was a big, red fire engine, driven by a team from Alpha Fire Company.

Of course, many volunteers helped to make the evening a success. Manpower was provided by Stepping Stones Community Church and Next Home Price Point Realty.

And finally, the beautifully lit tree was donated in memory of Grace Strong by her husband, Ed Strong, and her brother, Don Antes, Jr.

“Grace was such a dedicated community supporter, her buoyant smile radiated the holiday giving spirit 365 days a year,” said Miller. “We are so grateful to Ed and Don for their generous donation and it’s so fitting to have Grace’s tree overseeing this spirited community event. She is remembered well tonight.”

For more information about the Downtown State College Improvement District, please visit our website or call the office at (814) 238-7004.