CRANBERRY TWP — The Jolly Old Elf will once again visit Santa's First Stop in Cranberry Township, but this year's event will be especially cool.
Santa's First Stop will begin at 4 p.m. Friday at the Cranberry Township Municipal Building, and will feature the new Eagle North Pole Ice Festival to delight the children awaiting Santa's arrival.
The ice festival is the result of a collaboration between the township and the Cranberry Eagle and Butler Eagle newspapers. It will be set up near the front of the municipal center at 2525 Rochester Road.
Sculptors from DiMartino Ice Co. will use more than 60 blocks of ice to create 24displays.
Some displays will be carved live, including an ice sleigh and an elf with a face cut-out for photo opportunities that can also accommodate people using wheelchairs.
After posing with the ice elf and marveling over the many sculptures, children can cool more than their heels at the new festival's main attraction, a 40-foot slide made entirely of ice.
The ice slide will be set up behind the Sample School House on the municipal building property.
“Adding the Eagle North Pole Ice Festival to the evening's events provides an additional opportunity for our community to come together and celebrate the season,” said Pete Geis, the township's director of parks and recreation. “There is something for everyone, and we hope the community comes out to celebrate with us.”
Geis said the township is lucky to hold the designation of Santa's first stop each year.
“The event has become a tradition for many, and we are happy to help them start their celebrations each year,” he said.
The ice sculptures will be on display until 9 p.m.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the ice sculptures to sponsors will benefit the Cranberry Township Community Chest 2020 Project of the Year.
Several other events will round out Santa's First Visit as well.
At 4 p.m., food trucks will offer a variety of fare in the rear parking lot of the municipal building. The Grange Hall will serve as the dining hall.
Cranberry Township EMS will hold a “Stuff Our Ambulance” to benefit Toys for Tots. Those planning to attend are asked to bring a new toy if they are able to stuff into the ambulance.
The township's traditional event kicks off at 6 p.m., with crafts, activities and games in the gymnasium that are sponsored by various township businesses and other entities.
Santa's reindeer will also be on hand, awaiting their boss' arrival.
A Lego train display will chug its way around council chambers, and the Dutilh United Methodist Church choir will perform holiday selections from 6:15 to 6:50 p.m.
The choir will set the stage for the highly anticipated 7 p.m. arrival of Old Saint Nick, who will roll in on the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company's antique fire engine.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will depart to continue their holiday preparations at 7:30 p.m.
Santa will not be available for individual photos Friday night due to the long lists of toys and games he must peruse in preparation for his Christmas Eve flight, but he will return to the township Dec. 7 and 8 for the milk and cookies events.
More information on Santa's First Stop is available on the township website, www.cranberrytownship.org.