Locals were put in the Christmas spirit last week with the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Hesperia Civic Plaza Park.


The park felt like a winter wonderland thanks to the decorations and the Christmas songs being played. And although the late November air was chilly, the free hot cocoa being offered helped to warm visitors up.


Even Santa and Mrs. Claus made an appearance for the children.


"I got to sit on Santa's lap," 8-year-old Chris Sanchez said excitedly.


Many of the children, however, preferred to dance on the stage set up in the middle of the park or to enjoy some of the tasty treats being offered by the food vendors. Warm corn on the cob and churros included some of snacks available.


Other children watched classic Christmas movies being projected on a wall.


While Christmas spirit was in abundance, merchandise vendors were not.


"The vendor participation is definitely down this year," said Fay Huff, who worked the Avon merchandise tent with her friend Chris Chambers.


Huff, who has worked this event for the last four years in a row, said many people might blame the economy for this year's lack of vendors, but she thinks that it was actually last year's cold that scared many of them off.


"This year is a little chilly, but last year the cold just went right through you," she recalled. "You could feel it in your bones."


With only seven vendors this year, there wasn't much offered in terms of merchandise.


"We're very disappointed so few people showed up," Chambers said. "You've got to support this town. It's a great town."