VACAVILLE — With thousands of people crowding downtown Vacaville, the 31st annual Merriment on Main Christmas celebration went off without a hitch Tuesday night.
Folks gathered, bundled against temperatures that were expected to dip into the 40s before things wrapped up, to hear live music from any of at least six stages around downtown, and to kick off the holiday season in style.
On the main stage near the Creekwalk, at the intersection of Main and Davis streets, Mobility, a small contingent of the Air Force Band of the Golden West from Travis Air Force Base, entertained with Christmas carols and plenty of holiday banter.
A handful of other acts and community groups addressed the crowd before the three wing commanders from Travis joined Vacaville Mayor Steve Hardy and other city officials in lighting the 65-foot tree to the delight of those gathered.
With Main Street filling up quickly, those farther from the main stage were able to see the action on video screens while the sound was pumped through speakers throughout downtown.
Michael Freshour of Vacaville made his way through the streets with 3-year-old son Michael Jr. on his shoulders. It was a family night for them.
“He likes all the lights,” Freshour said of his son. “It’s nice and it’s not too cold, either. It was raining earlier.”
A brief rain shower hit the area Tuesday afternoon, but cleared up well before festivities got underway.
“We come here every year. Last year you couldn’t even walk,” Freshour said, adding that he didn’t know of any town that does things as big as Vacaville does. “I can’t think of any. I used to live in Dixon and they never do anything.”
For relative newcomers Jacob and Jennifer Hurst and their boys, Sterling, 2, and Granite, 1, the night was the first time they all got to witness Merriment on Main together.
“It’s our first full year here,” Jacob Hurst said. “It’s the first time I’ve been here because last year I couldn’t make it.”
As they awaited the main event, he said the atmosphere was a good one.
“It’s cool, I like it,” said Hurst, who is from North Dakota. “Couldn’t do it back home, it would have been too cold.”
It’s also not something you find everywhere.
“It’s different from most other California towns,” Hurst said. ”I’ve never seen this anywhere else in California.”
As he fired up the crowd for the tree-lighting, Mayor Hardy gave a brief, emotional speech. He called it a privilege to light the tree with the wing commanders, “Because we have such a good relationship with them.”
Hardy choked up when remembering the 500 or so Travis airmen who remain deployed around the world.
“This is an amazing place and I’m so proud to be a part of it,” he said.
After the tree was lit, Eddy K. Kaanoi took the stage to sing his song, “Christmas in Vacaville.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.