Under the threat of imminent rain, New Rochelle lit up Memorial Plaza in the downtown with its annual Christmas tree, menorah and creche Thursday.
Deputy Mayor Shari Rackman said the city was continuing a wonderful tradition by celebrating the holiday season as one community.
"Each one of the twinkling lights sends joy and expresses hopes and prayers for peace," she said.
Temple Israel of New Rochelle Rabbi Emeritus Amiel Wohl said following any one of the traditions of the season leads to "the everlasting and wonderful God."
"It's a season of light and hope for all of us," he said.
After a countdown by children, the tree was illuminated, making way for the arrival of Santa Claus, riding atop one of New Rochelle Fire Department's ladder trucks.
The jolly old elf mingled with the children while passing out candy.
The lighting ceremony officially opens New Rochelle's downtown for holiday shopping.
Beginning Monday, December 9, the city will offer two hours of free holiday parking in all lots controlled by either meters or pay-by-space machines, excluding the New Roc City Garage, the New Rochelle Transit Center and all permit parking areas.