Merry and bright

Bridesburg Civic Association to host fifth annual tree lighting event.

Christmas classic: Natalie and James Smith throw the switch to light the tree at the inaugural BCA tree lighting in 2014. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR FILE PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

If you’re looking to kick off the Christmas season in a holly, jolly fashion, look no further than the Bridesburg Rec Center this weekend.

The Bridesburg Civic Association is hosting its fifth annual tree lighting event, and it’s being billed as the biggest celebration yet.

“Each year, it has grown,” said Fred Becker, BCA vice president. “We have more sponsors, and last year, we were able to open the gym to have more activities and sponsors inside. We got a bigger plan this year.”

Inside the gym, guests will be treated to goodies from a full list of sponsors including Dydak Realty, Hair Cuttery of Wissinoming, Grace Baptist Church, Krick Wuder Saloon and Restaurant, Bridesburg Pizza, Marinucci’s Deli, Nationwide Insurance and Councilman Bobby Henon’s office.

There will also be a complimentary balloon twister, caricature artist and craft table to delight hearts of all ages.

In keeping with tradition, complimentary hot chocolate and pretzels will be available in the kitchen.

And, while there will be even more going on inside this year, an epic celebration will take over the outside of the rec and the streets of Bridesburg.

Around 6:45 p.m., Engine 33 and Aqua String Band will begin their mini Christmas parade down Richmond Street to escort the big man himself, Santa Claus, to the steps of the rec, where Mrs. Claus will be waiting.

The Boys and Girls Scouts of Bridesburg will be on elf duty, keeping the path clear for Santa’s big entrance.

After a performance by the string band and a quick meet and greet with Santa, the person holding the winning raffle ticket will have the honor of throwing the switch to light the tree at 7 p.m.

Once the tree is lit, little ones of all ages can gather to have their photo taken with Santa.

To add to the holiday spirit, a Christmas movie theater will be set up on the grass, playing holiday classics for all to enjoy.

And completely new this year, you can arrive to the tree lighting in Christmas style.

An old-fashioned SEPTA PTC bus will make loops around the neighborhood to pick up residents and deliver them to the tree lighting.

The owner of the bus, Frank Lapera, is a friend of Becker and will be decorating the bus in the spirit of the season.

“We just felt there are people around the neighborhood who can’t get around, and it gives people time to get over if they had to walk over,” Becker said. “We planned this a year ahead of time. And, hopefully, it’s something that sticks from year to year.”

As the tree lighting continues to grow, so does the civic’s ability to fulfill its main goal: giving back.

“All the money from the raffles, the civic turns around and donates $1,000 back to the community,” Becker said. “Out of this, 10 families around the area get $100 each around the holidays. We’ve been trying to build this bigger and bigger each year to give more back each year.”

The Bridesburg Civic Association fifth annual tree lighting will be held on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 6 p.m. at the Bridesburg Rec Center, 4601 Richmond St. Raffle tickets to light the tree cost $1. Bows and balls to put on the tree are $1. Letters to Santa can be dropped off during the event. The rain date is Saturday, Dec. 1.

The bus will make two loops around the neighborhood before at 5:45 and 6:10 p.m. and after the tree lighting at 7:35 and 7:50 p.m. Stops will include Bridge and Thompson streets, Lefevre and Thompson streets, Orthodox and Thompson streets, Richmond and Orthodox streets, and Lefevre and Richmond streets.

For more details and updates on the bus stops, visit the Bridesburg Civic Association Facebook page.