BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. — Snow flurries and an old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh created the perfect backdrop for Saturday's Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas Celebration.
Now in its sixth year, the event, sponsored by the Blue Ridge Summit Free Library, featured a host of free activities in and around the library.
Once 5-year-old Carleigh Forrest of Cascade saw a white horse pulling a sleigh, her parents knew how they would be spending their Saturday evening.
"We were coming around and she saw the snow and said, 'Look, it's snowing. We can take a sleigh ride,'" said Dawn Forrest, Carleigh's mother.
"That's what she told Santa she wants for Christmas — a horse," said Tom Forrest, Carleigh's father.
Tom is hoping Santa holds off on the real thing and brings her a stuffed horse instead on Christmas morning.
Since everything was provided by the library, local businesses or individuals, event coordinator Lynn Martin said the community could enjoy an entirely free event.
"It's just supposed to be fun for the community," Martin said. "It's close to Christmas, and it's meant to be a feel-good day where people can bring their family, get refreshments and hear entertainment."
Rich Fehle strummed on his guitar while serenading the crowd with familiar Christmas carols, and the Fountaindale Volunteer Fire Department gave firetruck rides from 4 to 6 p.m.
"It's just perfect," Vanessa Rhodes of Blue Ridge Summit said about the snowflakes falling around her.
This is the first year that Rhodes and her 5-year-old stepdaughter, Molly McIntyre, came to the Christmas celebration.
"It's a nice event. They have the horse-drawn sleigh rides and the firetruck rides, the tree lighting and you get to see Santa Claus," Rhodes said. "I thought I'd bring her out and make some new memories."
As Rhodes finished up some hot chocolate, Molly held tightly to a bag of candy that Santa gave to her.
"I want a baby doll for Christmas," Molly said.
Rhodes said she's hoping Santa brings her daughter a new Baby Alive doll for Christmas.
The tree lighting was held at 6 p.m., followed by a performance by the Appalachian Wind Quintet at the Church of Transfiguration at 6:30 p.m.
The Rev. John McDowell conducted a short Victorian service followed by a special reading of Letters Home written during the Civil War and read by re-enactors from Cumberland Valley Rifles.
Shirley Fitz, first vice president of the library board, said the Christmas event has become a popular tradition.
"This is the heart of our community, and the church is right here on the green and all of this draws everyone in," Fitz said.