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Town Square lights up for Santa

November 28, 2018

Santa isn’t the only one who’s making a list.

The little kids who came downtown with their parents Friday for the annual holiday lighting festivities had clear ideas about what they wanted to ask Santa for when he arrived.

“A snow globe,” said Hazel Devenberg, 9, who was there with her younger sister, Fern, and their parents, Blair and Eric.

And what does she want to see inside it?

“A fox,” she said.

The family lives in Pocatello, Idaho, and spent Thanksgiving in Jackson. Friday’s festivities sounded like a fun way to cap off their visit.

“We decided to come check it out,” Eric Devenberg said.

Fern, 4, was shy about revealing her wish for Santa, so her mom spoke for her.

“She’s hoping to get a Hatchimal.”

For those who don’t know, a Hatchimal is a toy that starts as an egg, which a kid cracks open to find the little creature inside.

Though the town lighting ceremony was a new event for the Devenbergs, it’s a beloved annual rite for residents that heralds the winter holidays and the start of ski season.

Adults, children and dogs started arriving on Town Square before 5 p.m. Boy Scouts served cookies and hot beverages, and the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce handed out tickets for its Winter Windfall local shopping promotion.

The notes of “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” “Jingle Bells” and other Christmas songs provided a musical backdrop, courtesy of the Jackson Hole Community Band and the Jackson Hole Chorale.

Town Councilor Hailey Morton Levinson kept everyone apprised of Santa’s progress toward the square.

“We’ve heard from the airport up north that Santa’s been spotted,” she told the crowd.

Lela and Fred Kingman waited for him with their mom, Jenna Kingman. They were on their last night of a visit from San Antonio and decided to see what the lighting ceremony was all about.

“This is our last shebang,” Kingman said. “We’re enjoying the snow.”

“Nintendo” is what Fred, 6, said he hopes to find under the Christmas tree. His sister, who’s 4, wants a playhouse. “A Barbie playhouse.”

Winnie and Jimi Figenshau, ages 2 and 5, entertained themselves by pelting their dad, Chris, with snowballs.

“I want a race car set,” Jimi said. “And I want marbles.”

“Good to know,” his dad said. “I thought you wanted a wand.”

The kids didn’t have long to wait for the main events.

Promptly at 5:30 the crowd began a countdown.

“Ten, nine, eight … one.”

And then the thousands of lights adorning the square were switched on to make the season brighter.

Immediately after the light show came the sound of a siren. A police car, lights ablaze, escorted a fire truck around the square, with Santa inside waving to the masses. His reindeer, the crowd was told, had been left on the National Elk Refuge so they could play.

And then the man in red got out so he could talk to the children. It was what Winnie Figenshau and the other kids were waiting for.

“She just wants to see Santa,” Chris Figenshau said.

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