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The holidays are a great time to remember family traditions and celebrations of the past. Older residents of Montgomery remember the days when Santa Claus rode through town on a sleigh, delivering packages containing candy, fruit and nuts to all the children. This tradition was started by the Montgomery & Countryside Fire Department during the Great Depression, when so many families were struggling to make ends meet. These gifts brought excitement and holiday cheer to Montgomery’s youngsters on Christmas morning, before they headed out for a fun day of sledding down the hill on Clinton Street, on the site of the current Village Hall.
This tradition has continued over the years with some modern variations. Santa Claus still rides through the area of Montgomery that is served by the Montgomery & Countryside Fire Protection District, but now this occurs earlier in December and he rides on the back of a fire truck. Instead of giving gifts, he accepts donations of gifts for the Toys for Tots program. In this way, the tradition remains true to its original goal of bringing joy to children on Christmas morning.
Since the 1990’s Montgomery has hosted its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony featuring Santa’s arrival on a fire truck, musical performances by local school children, free holiday snacks and visits with Santa. Changes to this tradition have also occurred, as originally this event was held in Montgomery Park and concluded with a fireworks display. For the past 10 years the event has been hosted at Montgomery Village Hall, and now includes the Festival of Trees that turns the Village Hall into a winter wonderland.
Despite changes over the years, these are beloved Christmas traditions that children of all ages look forward to each year. This year, Santa will be riding through town on the morning of Saturday, December 14th, beginning around 8a on the east side of the fire protection district area. The Tree Lighting Ceremony and Festival of Trees kicks off at 5p on Sunday, December 1st at the Village Hall.