CLAYTON — Families filled Main Street Thursday night for the annual Christmas Village and tree lighting.
Warm temperatures made the event unique, but otherwise, the night played out to the tune of tradition.
Stores and restaurants stayed open late so families could enjoy the festivities and do a little Christmas shopping. Outside many stores, owners greeted passersby with hot cider, the aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting along the street.
Rebekah Clark, a first-timer at the Christmas Village, said she enjoyed the event. Its quite charming, she said.
The event included a live nativity outside of Sherrys Signature Cheesecakes at 120 E. Main St. But alas, Mary and Joseph had no stable to rest in because of miscommunication between the actors and the church providing it. Instead, Mary, Joseph and the three wisemen stood on the lawn in front of the dessert shop and greeted children. The miniature horses were the main attraction.
At the opposite end of Main Street, children got to tell their wishes to Santa Claus in the Mosaic Community Garden.
Ally Grace Smith, 4, and Jaden Smith, 9, each told Santa what they hoped for. Jaden asked for an iPad; Ally wants a Barbie dream house.
We just love this night because its family time, said their mother, Tonya Smith.
The garden also played host to a Charlie Brown Christmas skit. The skit was not overtly religious but did seek to underscore the true meaning of Christmas, said Thomas Lipscomb who oversees the garden. It included, for example, some commentary on materialism, a reminder that the holiday is not about the gifts.
The Mosaic Community Garden, a project of Mosaic Church, is intended to be an outward expression of Gods call to build and sustain community, according to its website.
Businesses were packed. A line snaked out the door at Primo Pizza at 226 E. Main St., and a steady flow of people came and went from Clayton Steakhouse.
The main event, the tree lighting, took place at 8:30 p.m. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer was Mr. Christmas. He flipped the on switch, and the tree came alive, prompting oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
Its officially Christmas in Clayton.