WINONA LAKE – An estimated 600-700 gathered next to Letterwood, 802 Park Ave., Winona Lake, Saturday to see the Christmas tree lighting ceremony put on by The Village at Winona.
The tree lighting was performed by Jefferson Elementary School student Violet Wonderly.
Nick Hauck said the tree lighting has been performed at The Village at Winona since 2008.
Jefferson Elementary School student Violet Wonderly lit the Christmas tree in Winona Lake Saturday. She is pictured with parents Katie and Curtis. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union
Before the tree was actually lit, there was a Toys for Tots collection.
“I’ll think we’ll continue that on. I think they need those picked up by Dec. 8,” Hauck said. Last year, about nine boxes were collected for Toys for Tots.
Hauck also said the tree lighting ceremony also starts the holiday shopping season and all the lights are turned on at The Village.
Before the tree lighting, people could participate in kid’s ornament making at Brick Alley Pavilion, train rides for all ages in the Letterwood brick paver parking lot and Christmas carolers throughout The Village at Winona from 3 to 6 p.m. From 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., there were free cookies and hot chocolate and Santa Claus made an appearance.
Hauck said they started out with 30 gallons of hot chocolate and 400 cookies and the cookies were gone by about 5 p.m., so Hauck had to go get more. Hauck said around time of the tree lighting, they ran out of hot chocolate.
“We’re such a small, tightknit community that is kind of our Hallmark movie night, so it’s kind of awesome everyone comes together and just celebrates the kickoff of the holiday season,” Hauck said.