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Batavia lights help celebrate start of Christmas season

Luke Schneider 18 months Batavigrabs hold flickering light moments after city's Christmas tree was lit up Batavia's annual CelebratiLights festival

Luke Schneider, 18 months, of Batavia, grabs a hold of a flickering light moments after the city's Christmas tree was lit up at Batavia's annual Celebration of Lights festival on Sunday, November 25, 2012. | Michele du Vair~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 27, 2012 6:07AM

BATAVIA — Even with ever-increasing demands to meet with kids around the world, Santa arrived through a chilly night to wish good will to all during the annual tree lighting celebration.

“I’d like a doll, a bow for my hair and a scooter,” said Elena Mancini, 4.

“The season is about giving and being with family and friends,” said the youngster’s mother, Shelby Mancini of North Aurora.

Batavia’s “Celebration of Lights” festival ushered in the holiday season for families eager for their children to spend memory-making moments with the man with a big silver buckle over his red suit.

Inside the Peg Bond Center were a warm fire and a big red chair waiting for Mr. Claus to settle in and hear Christmas wishes from the hundreds of wide-eyed children who waited their turn.

Melanie Kimball of Batavia — who came with her twin sons, Max and Nick, 6, and daughter Zoe, 3 — said Sunday’s festivities were a kick-off for gatherings at home.

“The Christmas season is a serene time to spend with family,” the mother said.

The event featured a sing-along of traditional Christmas carols and ceremonial tree lighting, with Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke doing the honors of switching on the lights of a Christmas tree that sparkled with color.

Danielle Letsinger, a lifelong Batavian, and her 3 children, ages 16, 10 and 6, didn’t mind waiting in line for the charitable hay rides to benefit the Batavia Food Pantry.

“We are in the Christmas spirit of giving,” Letsinger said, holding a bag of non-perishable food items.

“I needed the pantry’s help, and now we are giving back because I have a job this year,” Letsinger said.

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