Smiles shone from under hats and above scarves Thursday night as Mayor Leo Fontaine led a crowd of children counting down for the Christmas Tree lighting, then a warm welcome for Santa.
No one knew what direction Santa would arrive from, said Holly Gill, there with her daughter, Hailey Kipp, 5. "That's what makes it a joy. That's what makes it easy to come here every year," Gill said, "It's the best time of year. It's great, I love it."
St. Nick arrived aboard a horse-drawn carriage that pulled in front of the park near City Hall. He performed a careful dismount and made his way through the crowd to a small house set up for him to recieve the long line of children anxious to met the Christmas icon and give him their holiday wish list.
Carriages began running between the depot at One Depot Square and the Museum of Work and Culture, full of cheerful, caroling riders.
Carolers from Woonsocket Middle School were also making the rounds up and down Main Street. Across from the Woonsocket Call building, food vendors fed passersby as a fire dancer thrilled the crowd with his incindiary act.
Stores along Main Street were open for business, offering free cookies and, in one case, free chowder along with special Holiday Stroll deals.
At the Museum of Work and Culture, three showings of "The Holidays at Finlay's Corner" drew full house crowds of 30 people.
The play, according to playwright Ray Bacon, is about three immigrant workers during the Great Depression, a Irishman, French Canadian and Italian. "What they do is talk about the labor conditions in 1931," Bacon said, as well as their respective Christmas traditions.
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