The Olde Time Christmas Celebration in Historic Jim Thorpe kicked off Friday night with the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at Josiah White Park in the heart of Historic Downtown Jim Thorpe and the tree lighting that followed their arrival.

An overflow crowd of several hundred people had gathered in the park awaiting the Jolly Old Elf and his wife while Christmas and holiday music filled the air courtesy of the Bach & Handel Ensemble, officially named "Beyond Bach".

To help ward off the evening's chill, festival goers were treated to free hot chocolate to warm them up courtesy of the Behan family, owners of The Emerald Restaurant, Molly Maguires Pub and JT's All American Steak and Ale House, all located in downtown Jim Thorpe.

Santa and Mrs. Claus traveled to the park courtesy of the Jim Thorpe Fire Department, riding on a fire truck from the Diligent Hose Company.

Shortly after their arrival at the park, as the crowd of holiday revelers counted backwards to zero, Santa officially kicked off the holiday's festivities with the lighting of the large Christmas tree standing near the train station.

After the tree lighting, Santa greeted the excited gathering of people both young and old as he strolled among them in the park, which like the rest of downtown Jim Thorpe, was bejeweled by thousands of glistening lights.

Also to the delight of the youngsters in the crowd was the appearance of Frosty the Snowman who circulated around the crowd while they awaited Santa's arrival.

Following the tree lighting ceremony, Santa proceeded to the nearby train station for pictures with children of all ages, the proceeds of which will benefit St. Joseph Regional Academy in Jim Thorpe.

The train station was also the location of a mitten tree, sponsored by the Jim Thorpe Lioness Club, where donations of gloves and mittens for those in need of them were gratefully accepted.

Once again this year, Tom Mase and his wife Ann Marie of Jim Thorpe portrayed Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Helping to organize and coordinate the event were Olde Time Christmas Celebration Committee members: Bart Springer, chairman; Meriel Springer; Betty Lou McBride; Alexandra Crum; Leah Merone; Judy Neeb; Larry Neeb; John Drury; and Jack Sturm.

In addition to the Chamber of Commerce, the Borough of Jim Thorpe helped out with setting up and decorating the Christmas tree, donated by Christman's Tree Farm of Lehighton.

The Olde Time Christmas Celebration, sponsored by the Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce, continued on Saturday and Sunday and will also take place next Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12 and 13.

To check on times of the individual events and for additional information about the remainder of the Olde Time Christmas Celebration please phone 570-325-5810 or, on the Web, www.jimthorpe.org.