A new date for the Christmas in the City celebration didn’t put a damper on attendance or enjoyment of the North Vernon tradition.

For the first time it was on the first Saturday of December instead of during Thanksgiving weekend.

“There was a lot of disagreement about the date, but more people than ever before attended Christmas in the City,” said North Vernon mayor’s assistant Tanya Burnett.

The downtown area, known as the Stellar Plaza, was alive with Christmas lights, decorations and music on Dec. 2.

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While children moved through a magic winter wonderland of decorations to see Santa Claus, volunteers prepared for the 50-unit parade.

As the sun faded, crowds of people filed onto the streets to watch the parade.

“I have lived here all my life and I have never seen that many people downtown” North Vernon Mayor Mike Ochs said.

The city’s neighbors at the Indiana National Guard’s Muscatatuck Urban Training Center brought a live camel named Sahara and pet goats, as well as military equipment to the parade.

The Grinch made an appearance. Volunteers manned Santa’s workshop. Vendors of food and merchandise, and a live nativity scene filled Stellar Plaza. Free Christmas cookies and beverages were enjoyed by attendees.

“I have heard, ‘It was like being in a Hallmark movie’ from so many people,” Ochs said. “(My wife) Connie and I were overjoyed with how Christmas in the City brought our hometown community together.”