Parade, visit from Santa mark Merrillville tree-lighting
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent November 18, 2011 10:18PM
Members of the Merrillville High School marching band perform at Merrillville Town Hall Friday night before the lighting of the Christmas Tree along Broadway. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 20, 2011 8:06AM
MERRILLVILLE — Carter Haynes was waiting to watch his sister perform with the Indiana Ballet Theatre at Merrillville Town Hall on Friday night, but the 4-year-old couldn’t stop looking at the jolly bearded man in red and his wife who just started listening to other youngsters’ Christmas lists.
“I want big black and green Legos. I want to build a race car,” Carter, of Merrillville, said as he sneaked yet another peak at Santa and Mrs. Claus during the Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting event held by the Town of Merrillville and Ross Township Trustee’s Office.
Carter wasn’t the only excited youngster at the event, which started with a parade from Pierce Middle School to the Town Hall, followed by Christmas music and music by the Merrillville High School Band, lighting of the official tree in the Town Hall parking lot, horse-drawn sleigh rides, refreshments, craft vendors, face painting and, of course, time with Santa.
Cole Viking, 8, of Merrillville, waved to each passing vehicle in the parade, but saved his most enthusiastic wave for Santa and Mrs. Claus who drove in on a truck.
He enjoyed the parade, but had a word of caution for Santa.
“He has to give me presents before I hug him,” Cole said. He, too, had his list ready: DS games, Monopoly and other board games, and a race car.
Three-year-old Ziyare Rollins and her cousin Jasmine Ingraham, 11, of Gary, danced to the music of “Jingle Bell Rock” as they waited for the tree-lighting to begin while another cousin, Alexis Wood, 11, watched.
“We’re having a wonderful time and getting into the Christmas spirit, Ziyare’s mom, Michelle Harper, said.
Nathan Queer, 7, of Merrillville, said he thought this might be the real Santa, but he wasn’t sure. He was in the holiday mood anyway, dancing to the music outside and standing in line to see him later inside along with his sisters Nicole Queer, 12, and Natalya Queer, 5.
Inside the Town Hall there was a line for the carriage rides, a line to get hot chocolate and cookies courtesy of the town and township, and a line to see Santa, but no one seemed to mind the wait.
Parents took pictures of their children by some of the many decorated areas in the building and others sat in the council chambers to watch the ballet perform.
Maxine Jones, 7, showed off her face, the top half of which had just been painted white with pink snowflakes added.
“I look like a princess,” Maxine, of Merrillville, said softly.
The magic of the season was beginning.