Park Square was aglow with holiday lights and sounds of the season as Noah Lis performed Christmas songs and 750 marchers paraded down Elm Street onto the green.
Erica Mclean of Westfield joined the crowd with her son and daughter and said it has become a family tradition.
"This is our third year coming and now I really feel like it's the holiday season," she said. "This is wonderful -and my daughter is very excited to see Santa."
The former Springfield resident moved to Westfield several years ago and said she enjoys the community spirit.
"I love Westfield," said Mclean.
Westfield On Weekends (WOW) founder Robert Plasse, dressed as the Ghost of Christmas Present, greeted the crowd and remarked on the number of participants.
"WOW couldn't be prouder of this great event," said Plasse. "We have a great city, as you know, and it gets better and better every year."
Danny and Lucille Nason, along with a crew of volunteers, organized a lantern making workshop at South Middle School Saturday morning. Families made 200 lanterns using supplies donated by City Package, Wal-Mart, Big Y and Stop & Shop.
This year, the workshop included cookie decorating, a noisemaker craft and a visit from the jolly elf himself, Santa.
"This was our biggest year yet," said Danny Nason. "The first year we had six people dressed in their Dickens Days costumes parade from the fire station and circle the green once. . . this is amazing."
The parade still included costumed marchers advertising the upcoming WOW Dickens Days events, along with several floats, children riding decorated bicycles, and many lanterns.
Mayor Brian P. Sullivan thanked everyone for participating.
"Thank you for coming down," he said, "it's all about community."
For Scotland native and Texas resident Eileen Duermyer, spending the night with her children and grandchildren was very special. "I'm visiting my family in Westfield and I think this is wonderful," she said. "This is wonderful for kids and families and everyone is having a great time." Duermeyer's daughter Jennifer Wilson agreed.
"This is fabulous," she said. "Westfield did a great job."
There were some minor technical difficulties at the event. Following the ceremony on stage and arrival of Santa by fire truck, Lis began to perform and the sound and tree lights went out. In keeping with the community spirit, the crowd continued to sing with Lis as technicians worked to get the lights and sound working again.
The event included a performance by students at New England Dance Center and a visit from the Whip City Witches, dressed in their holiday finery. Lighting was supplied by Jay Pagluica.
Santa and Mrs. Claus visited children inside the gazebo after the ceremony.
The parade and tree lighting took place on Small Business Saturday. In downtown Westfield, merchants and restaurants welcomed shoppers throughout the day. At Blue Umbrella Books on Main Street, owners Russell Atwood, Jessica Martin, Andrew Preissner and Joyce Tuesday said it was a successful day.
The shop stayed open until the parade to accommodate holiday shoppers.
"It was a great day," said Martin. "Shop Small Saturday was awesome. We had a glassblower - Hugh Naggar - making gifts on the spot, and local author Susan Buffum here signing books. And holy moly, people bought books!"
Tuesday also offered her handcrafted Harry Potter-inspired wands, local honey and jewelry.
"I want to thank all the customers who came in," said Atwood. "They really made a point of coming to shop today."
WOW continues the holiday spirit in Westfield with the Dickens Days House Tours Dec. 3 from 12 - 5 p.m., beginning at 105 Elm St. and the Dickens Dinner, Dec. 15 and 16 at Tekoa Country Club. Visit westfieldonweekends.com for more upcoming events.
Did you come out for Shop Small Saturday or the LanternLight Parade? If so, comment below! Tell us where you shopped, what you bought and maybe share your favorite part of the parade... Go!