Arlington community members put on their holiday sweaters and came down to Legion Park to meet Santa as part of the annual Hometown Holidays.

The local tradition is put on by local organizations and the city of Arlington.

The Hometown Holidays helps kick off the holiday season for the city with activities for kids and the Santa Parade down Olympic Avenue.

Many people like that the community comes out for the festivities, and the small, hometown feel of the annual event.

“I like that is homey and there is a lot of community. You see people that you know and there’s always the same people you see for this and the Fourth of July parade and other events,” said local parent Tia Spaid.

It’s one of the local events that remind people of the town’s roots, said Chad Blood, pastor at Arlington Lifeway Foursquare Church, one of the organizations that helps organize the Hometown Holidays.

“This is one of those small town, stay small things that we don’t ever want to let go of,” said Blood.

“Even as we grow we want to remain with that small heart. So I think these kind of events mean a lot,” he said.

Local parent Sandra Matthews said her daughters march in the parade with the a local Girl Scout troop every year and this year they wanted to visit Santa.

“I just like the hometown feel of the parade,” she said.

Santa enters town as part of the parade  along with local groups, organizations and community members who march down Olympic Avenue to the delight of the crowd of families.

“We love our parades, any time we can have one we do,” said Blood.

After the parade Santa comes to Legion Park to take photos with local families and children, and the annual Festive Sweater Contest is held to recognize those in the audience with the best holiday sweaters.

Free horse-drawn wagon rides that go through the downtown are also provided at the event and sponsored by the Downtown Arlington Business Association.

The Olympic Theatre and Arlington Lifeway Foursquare Church hosted crafts, face painting, cocoa and holiday movies such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

“We just love our community. We want to be involved and connected and this is one of the ways we can say we’re here and we love you,” said Blood.

He said he enjoys seeing the kids enjoy the holidays.

“I love watching the kids get excited and do crafts and find great treats,” he said.

Blood said the Hometown Holidays bring many families to the downtown so they can get to know their community.

“If you want to meet new people this is a great venue to do it,” he said.

“I love Arlington because they enjoy a sense of community. Anything that can bring the people together really fosters the heart behind Arlington,” he said.

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