More than 1,000 kick off Christmas in the City

Published 3:51 pm Saturday, November 28, 2009

The below-freezing temperatures didn’t bother Aiden O’Harra much. The Austin 4-year-old was content bundled in a Columbia jacket and munching on some mini donuts while waiting to see Santa Claus.

And when asked what he wanted for Christmas, he rattled off a Nintendo Wii game title as if there was no chill in the air.

“I want Mario and Sonic Olympic Games,” he said.

Email newsletter signup

Aiden, his aunt, his father and his 8-month-old brother waited in line to see Santa as part of Austin’s Christmas in the City kick off Friday night.

Held from 6 to 8 p.m., the evening began with a march, complete with a cast of holiday characters, from the Elks Lodge to Town Center and then continued with the lighting of the downtown Christmas displays, live entertainment and other events, such as carriage rides and free hot chocolate.

Hosted by the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, the kick off is just one of many holiday festivities planned for Austin, including Christmas in the Northwest Dec. 1 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. near the Oak Park Mall and Christmas in the Southwest Dec. 3 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Sterling Shopping Center area.

The Christmas in the City tradition celebrates 21 years for 2009.

“It’s a celebration of the holiday season,” said Sandy Forstner, Austin Chamber executive director. “And I think it’s very family oriented. That’s what makes it work.”

The night featured musical performances by the Austinaires, Miss Austin Mandie Mickelson and others and included renditions of “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and “Winter Wonderland.”

Isaiah Conway, 3, of Austin, listened to the music with parents Jessica and Peter.

Isaiah wants a race car for Christmas.

“I think it’s great, get everyone out to old downtown Austin,” said Peter, a long-time resident. “ It’s good holiday festivities.”

Forstner estimated the attendance at more than 1,000 and said the crowd size normally depends on the weather.

For Friday night, it was a clear 31 degrees.

“It’s good weather for November,” Forstner said.

Faye Pedersen enjoyed the festivities indoors.

The Austin resident owns Faye’s Concessions and was selling her popular mini donuts, with the proceeds supporting the local fireworks fund.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said of Christmas in the City. “I’m a very Christmas person. Everything means a lot. I just love being a part of it.”