Hundreds of people gathered on the plaza at Church Street and Maple Avenue this evening to watch as the city’s holiday tree was lit.

Waiting for Santa.

The festivities had to be moved from the traditional location in Fountain Square because of construction work underway to rebuild the square.

Santa made his annual appearance, but as a walk on. His usual vehicle — a city fire truck — wasn’t available — because of city budget problems, joked master of ceremonies Hecky Powell.

Restaurant owner Hecky Powell introduced Mayor Steve Hagerty.

And Hagerty helped kids throw the switch to light the tree …

… which provided a perfect backdrop for family photos for many parents who brought their young children to the event.

The Evanston Children’s Choir also entertained the crowd.

After the tree lighting Santa was available to meet with children at The Crystal Ballroom & Lounge, 1611 Chicago Ave., while Mrs. Claus made an appearance at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1818 Maple Ave.

Both locations offered hot chocolate to help folks warm up on an evening with temperatures in the upper 20s.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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