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Downtown Victoria lights bring families together (Video)

By chirst
Nov. 30, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.
Updated Dec. 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.

Hyrum Ripa, 5, has a head full of hay thanks to his friends and siblings as he gets ready to exit the hay ride he and his family took around downtown during Christmas on the Square Friday at DeLeon Plaza. The family-friendly event was free and open to the public.

Three-year-old Jefferson Dille wants a pony for Christmas.

At least that was what he told his mom, Jolene Dille, after he rode one Friday night at Christmas on the Square.

But he doesn't plan to tell the big man anytime soon.

"They were too scared to sit on Santa's lap," Dille said about Jefferson and his 18-month-old sister, Josie, at DeLeon Plaza. "But the ponies were a big hit."

She said her family tries to make most of the city-sponsored events in Victoria.

"It creates unity as a community, and our kids get to come out and have fun. It shows that family is important to the city and that the traditional values that are important to me are important to them," Dille said.

She said it is also an opportunity to see other family and friends.

She and her husband, Jace Dille, were joined by two other families, making up a group of six adults and eight kids.

Jamie Ripa, mother of four, said the event has grown since last year, and the lines are longer, but her kids were excited to come after remembering years past.

She said she is especially drawn to the event because it is free.

Her daughter, Mary Jane, 4, also wants a pony for Christmas.

"They were my favorite because I got to get on one. I want some because I like them," Mary Jane said.

Andrea Blomberg, assistant director of recreation for Parks and Recreation, said keeping the event low-cost was a priority and was done through sponsors and about 30 volunteers.

"People expect quality of life, and our mission is to provide a great place to live, work and play and to do it affordably, especially in this economy," Blomberg said.

The night included meeting Santa Claus and two of his reindeer, meeting Frosty the Snowman, hay rides, story time with the Victoria Public Library and a petting zoo provided through the Texas Zoo.

The event started in 1997 in Riverside Park as a way to kick off Christmas in Victoria. But Blomberg said they moved it to DeLeon Plaza in 2011 to bring more activities downtown.

She said they worked with downtown businesses to offer specials, stay open later and enter a Christmas window display contest to entertain during the hay ride.

Larry Clark, president of the board for the Main Street Program, said Crossroads Title won Friday's contest because they had the most original display.

"That is new, and we are hoping to make it an annual thing. It will be a traveling plaque, 'Best Holiday Spirit,' and each year we will engrave the winner's name on it and then it will go to the next business," Blomberg said.

Though Jace Dille said the event helps get the family in the Christmas spirit, Jefferson probably won't be getting a pony for Christmas.

"He will probably forget about it in a day or two. So I hope we don't have to worry about it," he said, laughing. "Maybe he will get a few cowboy toys."



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