Santa arrives on an antique fire engine at last year's Carlsbad Village Tree-Lighting Ceremony. This year's event kicks off Sunday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m.

By Kirk Sanderson

One of Carlsbad’s most popular annual traditions returns to the heart of the coastal town’s downtown “village” on Sunday, December 3, 2017.

The Rotary Club of Carlsbad’s 33nd annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place from 2 to 4:45 p.m. in the south parking lot of the Carlsbad Village Faire shopping center at 300 Carlsbad Village Drive.

The afternoon will begin at 2:00 p.m. with a performance of popular Christmas carols by the St. Patrick Parish School choir. Their performance will be followed by the 2:40 p.m. arrival of Santa in an antique fire engine, followed by Mayor Matt Hall and a procession of bicyclists from the San Diego County Bike Coalition.

As the children line up for free visits and photos with Santa, the entertainment continues with the Renaissance Institute of Music Orchestra (2:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.), the Carlsbad High School Band (3:20 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.), the Carlsbad High School Choir Carolers (3:50 p.m. to 4:10 p.m.) and the Carlsbad High Schoo’s Lancer Dancers and XCalibur dance teams (4:10 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

Free cookies, coffee, and cider will be served, and kids will be able to enjoy story-telling and crafts, courtesy of the Carlsbad Library’s Learning Center.

Then, at 4:30 p.m., Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall will officially light the tree, a 25-foot-tall fir that for the next three weeks will be one of the city’s most-photographed landmarks.

Rotary Club of Carlsbad President Kevin Clark said the event was created to give all children in Carlsbad and their families the chance to enjoy an old-fashioned holiday festival “where everything is free.”

“Not everyone can afford to take the kids to the mall for a $15 photo,” said Clark. “That’s why, from the very start, the Rotary Club of Carlsbad has produced this event, in recent years with our wonderful partners here at the Village Faire, with the mandate that everything is free.”

Arnold said in prior years, Santa’s “elves” took Polaroid shots, and, most recently, digital photos that were printed out onsite.

“But now just about everyone has a cell phone so we are letting people take their own photos,” Clark said. “We started this last year and people seem to like it a lot better – this way, they get a digital copy to post on Facebook or email to the relatives.

Lisa Snyder, general property manager for Village Faire, said the center has hosted the tree-lighting ceremony since 2006.

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