At 6 p.m., amid the hum of murmuring voices and babies crying, the distinct sound of jingling bells and whooshing wind came over the plaza. Mayor Laura Macias, who officiated the evening's event, yelled out, "Sounds like Santa Claus is here!"
At that, every child in the plaza went crazy with excitement. And then ... nothing, for a minute or so. Necks craned, everyone looked frantically for the jolly old man with a long white beard. Many of the children's heads were tilted up towards the sky.
All were surprised, therefore, when suddenly through the audience Santa Claus came zooming toward the stage — marked "The North Pole" — on his bicycle.
"Santa's on a bicycle because that's better for the environment," said Macias, to the cheers of the audience.
While Mountain View's annual tree lighting ceremony delivered on its holiday tradition of good cheer and community togetherness, this year the event plugged a "greener" Christmas, what with the zero carbon emissions of Santa's mode of transportation, and the biodegradable Christmas tree ornaments that a local troop of girl scouts were selling throughout the crowd.
The event continued with the tree lighting, complete with a 10-second countdown and a tree that didn't quite get itself in sync with the countdown, lighting up five seconds or so too late.
"I guess it must have been on a timer," Macias told the audience with a laugh.
A group of local elementary students got up on stage for a round of holiday carols while many in the audience headed towards the Center for Performing Arts, where kids and parents participated in one more essential holiday tradition: waiting in line to take a picture with Santa.