Three weekends of Yuletide celebration kicked off in Jim Thorpe last night with a parade and ceremonial tree lighting by Santa Claus.

The Olde Time Christmas in Historic Jim Thorpe festivities opened with a parade beginning at the Immaculate Conception Church, and proceeding down a seasonally-adorned Broadway, which was brightened by holiday lights on trees, decorated homes and stores.

The parade was headed by Grand Marshall Mark Rosenberger, head coach of the Jim Thorpe Area High School football team.

He was followed by the Jim Thorpe Area High School Band led by Eric Flowers; performers from the Live Nativity being held at the Sam Miller Field on the Heights; Girl Scout troops; and Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus riding in a fire truck from the Diligent Hose Company.

The parade ended at Josiah White Park where a capacity crowd of holiday revelers watched Santa officially kick off the holiday's festivities by lighting of the large Christmas tree standing near the train station.

After the tree lighting, Brownies, Juniors, and Cadets of Girl Scout troops from Jim Thorpe and Albrightsville sang a melody of Holiday songs for the crowd.

The Olde Time Christmas Celebration was sponsored by the Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce. A number of town merchants, including hotels, restaurants, and shop owners, also provided financial support.

The four major Gold Level sponsors included Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, Mauch Chunk Trust Co., Kovatch, and PPL.

The co-chairs for the celebration were Bill Eckert of Jim Thorpe Souvenirs and gifts and Eckert Marketing & Communications and Mariel Springer of the Albright Mansion.

Noting the turnout, Eckert said it was great to see so many people celebrate Christmas.

"They wanted a fun and enjoyable event like this to kick off the holiday season, when people will come into the town to shop, spend time in town and enjoy the music and ambiance of the victorian town," he said.

Eckert also thanked those who made it possible with their financial contributions, time and effort.

Festival goers were treated to free cookies and hot chocolate to warm them up courtesy of Molly Maguires Pub and Steakhouse located in downtown Jim Thorpe.

The Olde Time Christmas Celebration continues today and tomorrow, as well as the next two weekends, with a wide variety of holiday events and activities going on throughout the borough of Jim Thorpe.

Among those activities are a Live Nativity at Sam Miller Field in the Heights section of town; Santa train rides and photos on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway; a Magical Christmas Display at the Gilded Cupid B&B at 40 W. Broadway; entertainment at the Mauch Chunk Opera House; a Festival of Trees at the Mauch Chunk Museum; a concert by the Bach and Handel Choral at St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Race Street; Peef the Christmas Bear at Nature's Trail 5 Broadway; and Music on the Balcony at The Inn of Jim Thorpe.

Specific times of the individual events and other additional information on the Olde Time Christmas Celebration can be found online at www.jimthorpeoldetimechristmas.com [2].