The Warrensburg Elementary School performed at the ceremony, Supervisor Kevin Geraghty welcomed the crowd and Rev. Dawn Robbins of the First United Methodist Church blessed the tree.
Santa, Whalen said, endured a long day listening to many children's Christmas wishes, and he was pleasantly surprised that their requests went beyond material wants. Some children, she said, asked for family reconciliation, peace, household harmony and food for the hungry.
Although Santa, looking tired from all the young visitors, had mentioned this was perhaps his last year, as he was selling his house on Harrington Hill and retiring to Florida. But after experiencing the tree lighting ceremony and hearing the children and adults sing Christmas carols, he changed his mind, Whalen said.
"Santa said he's decided to come back to Warrensburg next year, even if he has to fly up from Florida," Whalen said. "It was really touching."