Executive Director of Middletown Main Street, Nick Manerchia, made some major changes to this year’s Christmas festivities, and after all has been said and done, Manerchia believes that they paid off.

The first major change came with the addition of the first Middletown Christmas tree lighting ceremony, held at Cochran Square. Starting at 5:30 p.m., there were several concert performances by locals, with caroling in between each performance. At 6:30 p.m., after the final carol had been sung, Mayor Ken Branner and his two granddaughters, Maddie and Lexi Brannner, came on stage to light the tree.

“I think we have created a tradition with the Christmas Tree Lighting on Cochran Square,” noted Manerchia. “It will only grow bigger and bigger throughout the years.”

While he had high hopes for the ceremony, the community support for the event exceeded what Manerchia had even envisioned.

“We received a ton of positive feedback in regards to the Christmas Tree Lighting on Cochran Square,” said Manerchia. “The attendance was well above my expectations, the crowd was really in the spirit, and you could just feel the energy from everyone. It really was magical.”

The Christmas Parade, which began the next morning at 10:00 a.m., was also well received by the public, according to Manerchia, who brought in some Star Wars characters to march in the parade.

“The parade was one of the most attended we ever had,” Manerchia said. “We even stopped the parade to make our own Mannequin Challenge video and it has been a huge hit on social media.”

Manerchia, who attended both events, also had a good time. His favorite portions for each of the events was singing Christmas carols around the Christmas tree, and stopping the parade to make the Mannequin Challenge video, a moment he described as “truly epic.”

An exuberant Manerchia also noted that after the success of this year’s parade and tree lighting ceremony, they had already begun making plans for 2017.

“I could not be happier,” Manerchia said. “We have already starting planning next year’s events, so stay tuned we have some surprises in store for everyone.”