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A few dozen residents and visitors gathered Saturday night on Sagunto Street as Santa Ynez kicked off the holiday season in its own low-key western way.

Folks bundled up against the chill night air as they listened to singers accompanied by live acoustic music, munched homemade cookies and other snacks and sipped hot chocolate.

Cinderella fairly glowed in her long white dress as she welcomed those who arrived for the annual tree lighting.

Old friends greeted one another with “Merry Christmas” as they converged on the courtyard across from the towering evergreen that would soon shimmer with white lights.

Of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand to hear the children’s Christmas wishes and pose for pictures with the young and young-at-heart.

After the entertainment and socializing, Santa and Mrs. Claus made their way across Sagunto Street to give the command to throw the switch that illuminated the tree.

In a flash, the long strands of lights running from the tip of the tree to its skirt and winding around the trunk threw a warm glow over the community where everyone’s a neighbor.

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Mike