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The countdown to Christmas has begun and Mon Valley communities --- including McKeesport, White Oak and Duquesne --- are getting ready.
Events begin Saturday (Nov. 18) with McKeesport's 53rd annual Salute to Santa Parade and White Oak's Season of Lights Celebration.
- Editor's Note: Weather permitting, our Internet radio station, WMCK.FM, will broadcast the Salute to Santa Parade beginning at 11 a.m.
Thousands of spectators are expected to line Fifth Avenue to collect candy while watching local bands, emergency vehicles, businesses, nonprofit organizations and student groups parade up the street from McKees Point Marina to City Hall.
Lineup for parade units begins at 10 a.m. at the Palisades, Fifth Avenue at Water Street, with the parade kicking off promptly at 11 a.m.
McKeesport also is planning a "Frozen" Winter Wonderland from 9 a.m. to 12 noon Dec. 2 at Jacob Woll Pavilion in Renziehausen Park. Children are invited to visit with the Ice Queen, Ice Princess and their lovable snowman friend for a pancake breakfast, including a pancake topping bar.
Kids also will get to make a snowflake craft. Tickets will be sold at the door on the day of the event. Cost is $8 for adults, $4 for children ages 4 to 10, and $3 for children 3 and younger.
Also at Renzie, McKeesport's 32nd annual Festival of Trees begins Dec. 7 and continues through Dec. 11. Hours are 12 noon to 9 p.m. daily.
The Festival of Trees is an annual display of nearly 100 trees in Renziehausen Park. The main display is inside the Jacob Woll Pavilion, with hay rides to take attendees to the nearby McKeesport Regional History and Heritage Center for additional trees and activities.
The Garden Club of McKeesport also hosts a holiday sale at the Arboretum and Garden Center.
Admission is $2, or free with the donation of a non-perishable food item. For more information, call (412) 675-5020, ext. 610.
White Oak’s Season of Lights Celebration is slated for Saturday (Nov. 18). The two-part celebration will begin with a pancake and sausage brunch with Santa at the Rainbow Volunteer Fire Company.
The brunch is from 2 to 4:45 p.m. Ages 16 and under are admitted free; ages 17 and over are $2. There will be photos with Santa and goody bags for the children.
The celebration continues at Oak Park Mall from 6 to 8 p.m., where Santa will arrive at 6 p.m.
In addition, the borough is having a coloring contest, which was announced on Facebook. The winner will get to flip the switch to light the holiday tree at Oak Park Mall.
Guests are invited to enjoy entertainment, door prizes, more visits with Santa and refreshments.
The annual event is co-sponsored by White Oak Borough, Rainbow Volunteer Fire Company, Oak Park Mall management and White Oak EMS.
Other upcoming holiday events in White Oak include the Recreation Board's Holiday Craft Show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 2 at the White Oak Athletic Association on Lower Heckman Road off of Route 48.
On Dec. 3, the Recreation Board is hosting an Evening with Santa at the White Oak Athletic Association from 6 to 8 p.m.
The City of Duquesne will host its annual "Tis the Season" holiday celebration at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 26 in the City Park.
The community is invited to gather for an evening of entertainment and fellowship, a spokeswoman said. There will be a Live Nativity and performances by local churches and organizations.
Santa will arrive in style on a fire truck down Grant Avenue and then visit with children in the foyer of City Hall. All children will also receive treats from Santa’s elves.
“Everyone is then invited to visit the fire station to socialize, enjoy a cookie and a ‘warm up’ with our famous hot chocolate,” said Beth Kracinovsky, City Controller. “It’s a very nice day for the children of the community.”
The program is made possible through the donations of local businesses and organizations. It is coordinated by PRIDE, Kracinovsky sad.
Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer who covers Duquesne and White Oak for Tube City Almanac. Editor Jason Togyer contributed to this story.
Originally published November 14, 2017.