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Oldest Christmas tree lighting in the U.S. is also a food drive in Bucks County

The oldest Christmas tree lighting in the U.S. is also a food drive in Perkasie
The oldest Christmas tree lighting in the U.S. is also a food drive in Perkasie 01:51

PERKASIE, Pa. (CBS) -- The oldest Christmas tree lighting in the United States will kick off Saturday in Bucks County and will double as a food drive. Santa has an exciting history lesson planned.

"It's the oldest tree lighting in the country," he said Friday at the Perkasie Electric Company. "I come every year to light it. There's thousands of people. It's a great time."

Since 1909, Perkasie Borough has had a Christmas tree lighting so epic, it needs electrical linemen from the borough, like Shawn Eby to set up Santa's bucket truck which will become his sleigh.

"I would say for sure that there's a thousand feet of lights here on the truck," he said as he strung the bulbs along the truck's front end. "It's hard to say because we add so many more on each year."

This is all part of Mayor Jeff Hollenbach's story as a lifelong Perkasie resident, who used to see a few hundred revelers at the event. But on Saturday, he said he plans to see up to 8,000.

"It is really spectacular when they come in with this sleigh over the railroad tracks, and the people are just going crazy," Hollenbach said.

"Once Santa gets here, you can't move," said event elder stateman Matthew Lynch.

Santa dropped in to Perkasie Borough this morning to chat with CBS Philadelphia about America's Oldest Tree Lighting....

Posted by Perkasie Borough on Friday, December 1, 2023

He said Santa drops candy canes from the bucket truck above. Lynch said he will be waiting on the ground below.

"I go through the crowd and pass them out to the children who did not get any," Lynch said.

All over the town Friday, Santa and his elves were checking everything twice in Perkasie. Before he left to rest up for another year of making history, he offered this holiday wish.

"Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!" Santa said.

This is not just a massive party.

Children can help others by donating food to the Pennridge Fish Organization at Saturday's event.

That makes them eligible for a drawing to help light the tree.

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