As the clock neared 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, hundreds of kids and adults gathered in Healey Square began to chant “light the tree.” Moments later, the festive fir came alive in a flash of red, green, blue and yellow, kicking off the holiday season in downtown Oak Bluffs.

Santa arrived by fire truck. — Ray Ewing

Renee Balter, originator of the tree lighting event and organizer, said the year off in 2020 likely contributed to the large turnout of families eagerly awaiting the illumination.

“Since we didn’t have it last year, I think it’s the biggest crowd we’ve ever had,” Ms. Balter said.

The Vineyard Haven Band played familiar carols as kids were handed reindeer hats, hot cocoa and “reindeer corn” — a kind of candy corn colored red, white and green.

And right as the tree came alive, Oak Bluffs School music teacher Brian Weiland and his backing band led the crowd in singing holiday hits as they waited for Santa to arrive.

Number one in holiday spirit. — Ray Ewing

“They’re going to mob him,” Ms. Balter said of the children before the jolly man arrived via fire truck.

And swarm Santa they did. Kids crowded Santa as he gave out holiday cheer, set to Mr. Weiland and company’s rendition of Here Comes Santa Claus.

“That’s worth the whole night, seeing the 300 kids in the street,” Ms. Balter said.

And putting the event together is no easy task for Ms. Balter, who helped map out the tree lighting minute-by-minute and organized a crew of 30 people to have the night come together.

Brian Weiland and his band led the caroling. — Ray Ewing

“She’s a miracle worker,” co-organizer and Oak Bluffs Association executive director Christine Todd said.

But Ms. Balter was more humble about the event’s organization.

“It all comes together — it’s like magic almost,” she said. “Or craziness.”

More pictures.