NEWMAN - A community Christmas celebration will usher in the holiday season Saturday in downtown Newman.

The annual celebration features Santa visits, a tree-lighting, lighted Christmas parade, craft vendors, food booths, fire truck rides and much more.

“This event definitely brings out the joy of the holidays with the small, community feeling that Newman has,” commented Alicia Mendoza, the city’s community liaison, who is working with Chamber of Commerce officials to organize the celebration.

The festivities will begin at 3 p.m. and continue until 7:30.

Mendoza and chamber representative Michael Passarelli said they anticipate a larger Christmas parade and greater number of vendors at this year’s celebration.

The popularity of the community’s summer farmer’s market and fall harvest market contributed to vendor interest in the Christmas event, they reported.

Passarelli said 10 food vendors have registered for the event, serving up fare that ranges from Hawaiian barbecue and shrimp dishes to Mexican food and pizza.

“A number are coming from the harvest market and summer market,” Passarelli commented. “We have been successful in building Newman’s identity with special events, and they want to be a part of that.”

A new addition to the day will be a decorated Christmas tree auction which benefits the Newman Tots campaign. Trees will be on display in the West Side Theatre. Patrons may bid on the trees from 4-7 p.m.

Booths in the downtown plaza open at 3 p.m.

Fire truck rides will be offered from 3-4:30.

Santa will take time from his busy schedule to hear Christmas wishes and take photos from 3-4:30 p.m. in the theatre (parents are reminded to bring their own camera).

Dance school students will perform starting at 3:45, and Newman-Crows Landing Musical Theatre students will perform at 4:50.

The colorful lighted parade, led by the Orestimba High marching band, will make its way through downtown Newman shortly after 5 p.m.

An Orestimba concert band performance will follow at 5:30, and the mayor’s speech and tree-lighting in the downtown plaza is set for shortly before 6 p.m.

A drawing for prizes donated by local merchants follows the tree-lighting. Each person attending the celebration may stop by the booth where the prizes are on display to pick up a drawing ticket.

While the event started years ago as a Chamber of Commerce celebration, Passarelli said, it has since become a collaborative effort involving the city and local schools as well.

“The school involvement is very important,” he stated. “That is one of the things that makes it such a success.”

That collaboration, and the support of the community as a whole, makes the event possible, Mendoza and Passarelli said.

“I’m really proud that we continue to make it bigger and better to offer more things for the community each year,” Passarelli reflected. “It has become a Newman tradition. In some ways it is equal to the Fall Festival as a Newman-centric event that everybody looks forward to.”