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Santa Sneaks Into Town, Lights City Christmas Tree
Santa and Mrs. Claus didn’t let the COVID pandemic stop them from stopping by downtown Riverbank the past Friday, Dec. 4 to impart a bit of Christmas spirit and light the city’s Christmas Tree in Plaza del Rio Park. They didn’t let the Grinch who stole the annual parade keep them from their holiday duties here. Ric McGinnis/The News

Let there be light!

Santa and Mrs. Claus were able to sneak into Riverbank to carry out a most important duty this past Friday, that of officially lighting the city’s Christmas Tree in Plaza del Rio Park. With a handful of Santa’s pixie dust, the tree and its lights came alive with illumination.

The jolly old fellow didn’t let the Grinch who forced cancellation of this year’s Christmas Parade and Crafts Faire keep him from his duties, on the evening of Dec. 4. COVID was the culprit, as in most cases for canceled events this year.

Presided over by Riverbank Mayor Richard D. O’Brien, the brief tree lighting festivities were streamed via the internet to the city’s Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as its YouTube outlet. That at least allowed locals to enjoy the annual event, albeit virtually.

Additional sets of holiday lights encircle almost every landscape tree in the downtown region, as well.

Normally, the weekend after Thanksgiving in downtown Riverbank is reserved for a lighted night parade, along with a Christmas Craft Faire. Santa and Mrs. Claus usually bring up the end of the parade, riding in a fire engine.

After the parade, category winners are announced, then Santa and his wife sneak back to the park to help light the tree, applying a healthy dose of his pixie dust.

After that, he usually takes time to meet with area youngsters, just in case they have any last minute wishes he needs to hear.

This time, the couple was here in town just long enough to light the tree, but Santa was able to leave a number of candy canes for the few youngsters who were in the neighborhood of the tree lighting.

In the wake of his surprise visit to downtown Riverbank on Friday, even though he came and went quickly, Santa managed to leave behind a small peppermint cache of candy canes for the few youngsters who were able to come out for the city’s Christmas Tree lighting at Plaza del Rio Park. Although he was here just long enough to help light the tree, a little bit of seasonal sweetness remained behind. The ceremonies were streamed on the city’s internet resources for the public to watch live. Ric McGinnis/The News