Later in the day several families and small children lined-up in a parking lot downtown for free hayrides offered by the Muddy Brook Farm, a local equine facility. Dozens of children hopped inside the horse-driven carriages for a ride.
For some families this was an annual tradition, but for others it was a first-time experience.
“We’ve never been on the hayride,” said Kelly Anne McKeown, a resident of Amherst, “but we do like the Santa and the marching band, that’s kind of the highlight for us.”
McKeown came to the hayride with her two children Finn McKeown, 6, and Addie McKeown, 4, who both rushed in excitement toward the carriage once it stopped.
Additionally, children were encouraged to make art projects and were entertained with stories at the Amherst History Museum.
While children got free rides from horses and made arts and craft projects, amongst the steps of the town hall were the ARHS Chorale and Hurricane Singers who decided to entertain a crowd of over 200 people with Christmas carols.
At 5 p.m., the Merry Maple tree burst with bright lights, illuminating Amherst Common and engendering a loud applause from the crowd. Teams of children rushed toward the tree, while others wished to touch the bright lights that entangled the bark and branches.
Shortly after the excitement of the lit Maple tree quieted down, police officers cleared the streets and the parking lots to make way for the main event – Santa Claus.