Arriving on a firetruck Tuesday night at One Chamber Square in downtown Seymour, Santa Claus waved to the crowd and greeted children.
He then gave two of those children an important task — helping flip the switch to turn on the city’s Christmas tree for the first time of the year.
After a countdown, Eli Bukowski, 6, and Henry Bukowski, 4, with the help of their father, Jason Bukowski, flipped the switch and turned around to see the multicolored lights lit up on the nearly 50-foot-tall tree.
That was a special moment for the boys.
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“I like to see the tree lit up,” an excited Eli said.
The boys also enjoyed refreshments and petting Silly Safaris’ reindeer during the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce’s annual One Chamber Christmas.
To top off their experience, the boys, their father and their mother, Andi Bukowski, were the first ones to visit Santa’s House.
Both boys asked Santa for just one thing each. Henry wants a Play-Doh ice cream shop, while Eli wants an original green Thomas the Tank Engine.
“Their favorite thing was the reindeer, and then once they found out Santa was going to be here, it was all over. They said, ‘I don’t want to leave,’” Andi said.
“It was just a nice family thing with Jason being the emcee, and we all got to be involved and support the community. That’s really nice,” she said. “They think Dad is famous now. They have had the best time.”
Jason, a chamber board member, said the mild weather resulted in one of the largest crowds at the event in recent years.
“We’re constantly trying to think of activities, community events to just bring people downtown but also give them opportunities to just have some fun in Seymour,” he said. “This is one of those. This is a staple. This is pretty cool.”
One of the event’s most popular attractions was Silly Safaris’ two reindeer, a rabbit and an owl. Also, several booths offered arts and crafts, one had glowsticks and a couple sold food.
At One Chamber Square, Deb Bedwell, dressed as an angel, read Christmas stories, and songs were performed by St. Ambrose Catholic School’s children’s choir and Seymour High School choir soloists Bailey Lewis, Ella Andres, Abi Beed, Megan Lake and Selena Peters.
Santa’s House also was a big draw. Even though Santa wasn’t there until about 6:30 p.m., people started lining up when the event began at 5 p.m.
First in line was Braxton McClanahan, 8, of Hayden. He was there with his parents, Valerie and Jason McClanahan.
Jason’s aunt, Bernie Bryant, who works for the Seymour Department of Public Works, told them about One Chamber Christmas and Santa’s House. It was their first time at the event.
“We just didn’t know what to expect on the crowd, so we kind of wanted to beat the crowd,” Valerie said of arriving early.
Braxton came prepared for his visit with Santa, writing down a detailed list of items he wants for Christmas. That includes Steph Curry shoes, a new four-wheeler and a gray, red and black bicycle.
“He knows that Santa can’t bring it all. It just gives him a variety to choose from,” Valerie said.
After visiting Santa, the family planned to check out the other features of the event and eat at a downtown restaurant.
“It brings a lot of stuff to the community, so I think that’s a good thing,” Valerie said of One Chamber Christmas.
“It’s something to bring people together,” Jason said. “I like that about getting people out and the things you get to see. You’ve got reindeer here. It’s pretty neat.”
Braxton said he’s ready for Christmas.
“Spending time with my family, eating food and playing basketball,” he said of his plans for the holiday.
Brittney Archer of Seymour and her three children, Ryan, 4, Abbi, 3, and Maci, 1, made sure they checked out Silly Safaris’ animals.
Ryan said the reindeer was his favorite since he got to touch its antlers and fur.
Brittney said that was a great experience for her children.
“They get to see that there is real reindeer,” she said. “It was definitely neat getting to touch them. The reindeer itself was soft, but the antlers, it wasn’t what I was expecting. It was like tree bark almost.”
Brittney said her children also liked the crafts, the tree lighting and visiting Santa.
Ericka Nolan of Seymour said her two sons, Christian, 6, and Liam, 1, also liked petting the reindeer.
“We got some pictures of them last time, too,” she said of seeing the reindeer at a previous One Chamber Christmas event. “My boys both love animals, so it’s pretty cool for them to get to see real reindeer.”
She said her family always makes sure to attend the event.
“I think it’s cool that they do it. I’m glad that they do stuff like this for the community,” she said. “The kids always enjoy it.”
The hours have been announced for Santa’s House at Chestnut Street and St. Louis Avenue in downtown Seymour.
Dec. 2: 5 to 7 p.m.
Dec. 3: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dec. 4: 1 to 4 p.m.
Dec. 9: 5 to 7 p.m.
Dec. 10: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dec. 11: 1 to 4 p.m.
Dec. 16: 5 to 7 p.m.
Dec. 17: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dec. 18: 1 to 4 p.m.
Dec. 19: 5 to 7 p.m.
The dates and times are subject to change. For updates, visit seymourchamber.com.