Temperatures dipped to near-freezing Friday evening, setting the mood for Santa's First Stop and the Eagle North Pole Ice Festival in Cranberry Township.
With activities ranging from reindeer feeding, train sets and Santa's visit, all had a good night at the annual tree-lighting event. And a new attraction this year, with ice sculptures and a slide, grabbed the attention of both kids and adults.
“They just spent about 20 minutes out there, running back and forth,” Bryan Coles, of Economy, said of his four children.
Two of them — Sawyer, 3, and Sadie, 5, — said their favorite part of the hours-long event was the 40-foot slide, which was surrounded by two dozen ice sculptures, some of which were carved live.
“That was absolutely awesome out there,” Coles said.
The 24 sculptures, carved from 60 blocks of ice, welcomed visitors to the front of the township's municipal building. Also in the front parking lot was an opportunity for children to see and feed reindeer, another crowd favorite.
Inside the municipal center, there were more chances for fun and celebrating the holiday season.
The township's council chamber, which normally houses government meetings, accommodated a Lego train set. Across the hall, in the gymnasium, were opportunities to engage in activities such as hockey and lacrosse, which Thomas Cobbold, 9, of Cranberry, said were his favorite parts of the evening.
Inside, trees representing local nonprofits lined the halls, and one was decorated with tags visitors could take to fulfill someone's holiday wishes.
That charitable atmosphere graced the rear of the building as well, with the Cranberry Township EMS collecting new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots in its stuff the ambulance program.
“Last year we were completely filled to the ceiling,” said Shawn Macintyre, an EMT, adding that he expected the same this year.
Throughout the event, visitors gave Jerry Andree, township manager, the holiday cheer.
“This is what it's all about,” he said. “This is community.”
And, by the time Santa rode in on a fire truck and the township's tree was lit bright white, visitors had been granted a merry Christmas for all, and for all a good night.