BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — DANVERS — Santa Claus is coming to Oniontown, twice.
On Saturday, you can spot Santa as he lights the Christmas tree in Danvers Square. The following Saturday, Dec. 8, you can catch him as he arrives by sea at Pope’s Landing.
St. Nick will be atop a Danvers firetruck for the lighting of the town tree during the annual Holiday Festival in Danvers Square, which is blocked off to traffic for the event.
From 2 to 4:30 p.m., Santa will be at the social hall of the Maple Street Church for visits and photos, said Aldonna Linares of Celestial Nails, who is spearheading this year’s festival.
After that, “he gets on a firetruck, and they bring him down and light the tree,” Linares said. The tree lighting is at 5 p.m. Downtown merchants will provide cookies and hot chocolate, and Cakes for Occasions will offer gingerbread cookie decorating, which Linares said always proves popular with children.
A living Nativity scene will be presented on the front lawn of the Maple Street Congregational Church from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Church members will portray Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, shepherds, kings and angels, plus shepherd boys and girls. Danvers-area Girl Scouts will carol on the church’s front steps from 4 to 4:30 p.m.
The following Saturday, Santa will return in the harbormaster’s boat, landing at Pope’s Landing for the annual Santa by Sea event. Last year’s event drew a crowd of 1,500, said Aileen L’Abbe, chairwoman of the Danvers River Committee.
Santa is scheduled to steam into port at noon. The free event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
L’Abbe said there will be plenty to occupy kids, including two teams of horses giving rides, pony rides, a trackless trolley, two bounce houses, a petting zoo, free pictures with Santa and face-painting. The Texas Roadhouse restaurant is donating meals. The parrot character CoCo from CoCo Key Water Resort in Danvers is also scheduled to be on hand.
Another way to get into the holiday spirit is the Parade of Trees Festival, a fundraiser for the Danvers Historical Society and It’s My Heart’s New England chapter, which supports and advocates for children with congenital heart defects.
The Parade of Trees takes place through this week at Tapley Hall, 13 Page St., from noon to 8 p.m. weekdays and beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. More than two dozen themed trees and wreaths from businesses, families, organizations, Scouts, school and church groups are being showcased. The themed Christmas trees and their gift certificates and prize decorations will be raffled during the Holiday Festival at 5 p.m.
As part of the Parade of Trees, a “Polar Express” story hour is planned for 6:30 p.m. today. Tomorrow is Ugly Sweater Day at the tree festival, where people are invited to drop by Tapley Hall in their favorite ugly holiday sweater fashions. A Seniors Open House for the festival will be from 2 to 4 p.m. tomorrow. For more information, go to www.paradeoftrees.com.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.