Clayton’s quaint and picturesque town park was lit up Saturday night for the annual Caroling and Tree Lighting. The event, which drew hundreds of spectators from Clayton and the surrounding communities, was the perfect way to kick off the holiday season.
The entire downtown was closed to traffic, and was instead filled with scenes of carolers, horse and carriage rides, and children holding cups of cider and the hands of their mothers.
“It’s like a Thomas Kinkade Christmas,” said one man watching the horse drawn carriages outside of Moresi’s Chophouse. Others smiled and nodded in agreement.
The carriages took families on a lovely loop around town while those waiting in line were treated to the sounds of Vintage, a quartet of Clayton singers. The clip-clop of the horses’ hooves added nice rhythmic backup to the traditional and original Christmas music of the group led by Santiago Martinez.
This is the fifth year that the Dynamic Real Estate Group, the Moresi Family and P2C Foundation have teamed up to provide the rides.
By 6 p.m., the Mt. Diablo Elementary Chorus was in place on the Gazebo for their annual concert before Santa’s arrival.
The suspense built as the children chanted “Santa, Santa, Santa,” until he arrived in style, chauffeured by Clayton’s police chief, Chris Thorsen.
The crowd then headed up Main Street to the official city tree, past the Clayton Community Church where members stood ready to serve the donuts and hot cider provided by the CBCA. A Jewish menorah and a Christian nativity stood side by side next to the church, a reminder of the season’s two traditions.
At the tree, it was finally time for a couple of off-key verses of Jingle Bells and the countdown. Santa pulled the switch and the stately tree glowed.
“This is really a wonderful way to start the season,” says Clayton resident Dave Bush, who attends the event every year with his family.
His children agree.
“I really liked when the kids were caroling and the countdown to the tree lighting,” says 8-year-old Olivia Bush. “I like when everyone is gathered around the tree.”
“My favorite part was the carriage ride and watching the Mount Diablo Elementary School students play their instruments,” added her sister, Mackenzie, 10.
The annual event is sponsored by the Clayton Business and Community Association.