Holiday festivities will get underway in downtown Washington Friday with the Christmas parade and Holiday Market.

The fourth annual Holiday Market, hosted by the Observer-Reporter and Range Resources, will begin at 4 p.m. Friday at the Community Pavilion on South Main Street, across the street from the newspaper office. The market, which focuses on shopping local, will be bigger this year, with more than 40 vendors and more food options.

“Each year it gets better,” said Carole DeAngelo, advertising director for the Observer-Reporter. “It’s very important for us to see that the community has banded together to support our local businesses before the parade starts.”

Santa Claus is expected to kick off the market with a ribbon cutting before taking toy requests and pictures with children. This year, photos with Santa will be free, and families can get a Polaroid photo right away.

“We have confirmed that Santa will be able to spend a good part of the day with us,” said Sarah Collier, representative of the Washington Business District Authority.

There will also be carriage rides around Washington before the parade, and a Toys for Tots drive.

“What I’m most excited about is that we’ve created a tradition for a lot of families,” DeAngelo said. “You can easily find a place to park and get a little snack, some hot chocolate, and do some shopping before getting your seat for the parade.”

The 7 p.m. parade will begin when Mayor Scott Putnam lights the downtown Christmas tree, which will be moved from the Washington County Courthouse to the Main Street Pavilion, as the courthouse is under construction, Collier said.

She said there are 70 entries with motorcycle and Jeep groups, Trinity and Washington high school bands, dance groups and cheerleaders and a float from Washington & Jefferson College.

“Washington’s Christmas parade is something we’ve enjoyed for generations,” Collier said. “It’s so authentically Washington. It’s so cool that everyone comes together to celebrate each other and the season.”

Participating as a special guest in the parade this year will be Spiny the dinosaur, a spinosaurus from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

“I don’t know that we’ve ever had a dinosaur in our parade,” Collier said.

The event is free to the public and the perfect way to kick off the holiday season, DeAngelo said.

“We’ve really shown what you can do as a little community when you work together,” she said.

The holiday spirit will grow over the entire weekend, too, as Canonsburg holds its Christmas parade at 5 p.m. Saturday. Santa will be there as well getting photos with children.

Canonsburg’s Old Fashioned Christmas event begins at 4 p.m. Friday with a Christmas Market and the inaugural Christmas tree lighting at 6.

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