Newark began decking the halls this week in preparation for Winterfest, which has marked the unofficial start of the Christmas season here since 1995.

The city’s Christmas tree arrived at the Academy Lawn on Tuesday morning and will be decorated by Newark Parks and Recreation Department employees. At the same time, a city worker was installing Christmas banners on the utility poles lining Main Street.

Winterfest is set for Dec. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. on Main Street’s Academy Lawn. The tree lighting will happen at 6:15 p.m., with Santa Claus arriving at 6:30 p.m.

The festival also includes an ice-carving demonstration, roasted chestnuts and a chance to take photos with Santa, as well a number of musical performances.

Regular parking fees will be in place. Academy Street will be closed, and expect traffic delays throughout downtown.

The rain date is Dec. 7; call 302-366-7147 for weather-related cancelation information.

The Reindeer Run, a 5K that benefits Special Olympics Delaware, will be held in conjunction with Winterfest, beginning at 7 p.m. in front of the fire station on Academy Street. Day-of registration is $30.

Last year’s run drew more than 1,000 participants and raised $60,000 for Special Olympics Delaware. In the event’s 13-year history, more than $500,000 has been raised.

On Saturday, the Newark Parks and Recreation Department will host Snack with Santa at the George Wilson Center on New London Road.

The annual event includes games, crafts, snacks and photo opportunities with Santa from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Vendors will set up Santa’s Secret Shoppe, where kids can buy gifts under $5 for family members and friends. Admission is $2 per person.

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