Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived by sleigh Friday night and flipped a switch to illuminate the Tamaqua Depot Square fountain and park.

The Santa Parade was a highlighted the 16th annual Spirit of Christmas Festival held over the weekend.

The parade, which consisted of an ATV elf escort, stopped at the Depot Square Park, where hundreds of spectators watched as Santa and Mrs. Claus helped create the light show.

Following the illumination, Mr. and Mrs. Claus got back in their sleigh to entertain children with candy and photos at the Chamber of Commerce office.

The Spirit of Christmas Festival is one of the largest events of its kind in Schuylkill County and attracts visitors from a wide region. The event got its start through efforts of a committee associated with the Tamaqua Area 2004 Partnership, now the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership.

"A year of planning, as well as participation of multiple clubs and organizations made the festival a great success," said Linda Yulanavage, Chamber of Commerce and Spirit of Committee member.

The festival included the parade, park lighting, cookie contest, holiday craft show, breakfast with Santa, Victorian tour, as well as vocal and instrumental entertainment.

Organizers pointed out that 12 decorated trees are on display at the Tamaqua Art Gallery, 114 W. Brod St., every weekday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Friday, Dec. 16, when they will be given to deserving families.

Jean Ann Towle, chairman, Spirit of Christmas committee, thanked all the committee members, organizations, businesses and community volunteers that made the event a joyful weekend for all who came.

Others involved with the planning of the event included Eileen Barron, Jason Boris, Linda Heigele, Judy Hoppes, Gary Price, Kathy Schock, Maria Montero Hoppes, Salvation Army Major Sharon Whispell, Salvation Army Major Margaret Johnson and Linda Yulanavage.