Hundreds of people came to downtown Belfast Saturday, Dec. 4, for the opening of A Belfast Old-Fashioned Christmas, a month-long series of events sponsored this year by the new downtown business group Our Town Belfast.

Saturday was, schedule-wise, the most jam-packed of the seven days listed on the event calendar. The festivities started early with crowds gathering at several downtown stores before sunrise for early-bird sales. Throughout the day, Santa made multiple appearances around town, including stints at the Belfast Co-op, and Light in the Forest photography studio, where he listened to childrens’ Christmas wishes and posed for photos, and later at the annual tree-lighting ceremony in front of City Hall.

There were craft shows at Waterfall Arts and the Belfast Boathouse, chestnut-roasting, strolling carolers, live performances for children and free movies at the Colonial Theatre.

According to Larraine Brown of Our Town Belfast, there were many reports from merchants of increased sales, “and better yet, increased attendance” at the event, she said.

Brown indicated that the traditional event is in line with the goals of Our Town Belfast. “The point of Our Town is to do everything possible to increase use, ease and enjoyment of our downtown,” she said. “I’d say that this series of events were an excellent step in that direction.”