“Who wants Santa to come tonight?”
Penn Hills Deputy Mayor Catherine Sapp’s enthusiastic question was followed by cheers and applause from children and their parents at the municipality’s annual Holiday Light Festival on Nov. 29. A crowd gathered outside moments before the building’s decorations and tree were lighted.
This was the first year it was held outside the brand new municipal complex. The change in scenery didn’t stop a couple hundred people from showing up, though. Some people thought there were more people there than ever.
“I think there’s more excitement this year,” said Rici Oswalt, a Penn Hills resident who attended the festival with her husband and children.
The excitement was evidenced by an overfilled parking lot and crowded council chambers, where families waited to snap a photo with Santa Claus. In the lobby, volunteers dressed as elves greeted people coming in and the Rotary Club of Penn Hills handed out refreshments.
Oswalt’s daughter and son were involved with the event as volunteers. They have been coming to the municipality’s light up event for several years.
“It’s nice to see the community come together for something good,” she said.
For many people, the event allowed them to tour the new building for the first time. That was the case for Alisha Hanner, a Penn Hills resident who attended the event with her daughters.
“It’s a nice building, it’s my first time here,” Hanner said. “The kids are having a blast right now.”
Outside, as sleet fell from the November sky, the Penn Hills High School football team ushered in Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to cheers. The characters were carried in on a Penn Hills fire truck as they slowly made their way inside to pose for pictures.
Norm Oswalt, Rici’s husband, said the event was a success.
“But next year will be better because they’re still figuring out how to do it after years at the other building,” he said.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter @dillonswriting.