This weekend, it’s time to turn on the lights for the Christmas season as Downtown Carlisle Association hosts its annual “Santa Comes to Town” event Friday and Saturday.

The weekend celebration kicks off with activities accompanying the DCA’s “Light Up The Night Christmas” parade.

Leesa Braun, who co-chairs the parade committee for DCA with her husband, Trey, said costumed characters will be performing skits and interacting with early arrivals prior to the parade.

“Dickinson College theater students are going to be dressing up. So we’re going to have elves. We’re going to have Rudolph. We’re going to have Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch,” she said.

About 40 units are expected to participate in the parade. All of the units have been asked to incorporate lights in some way so as to fit the theme of the evening. Emceeing the night is Red 102.3 hosts Rick on Red, Cody Lee and Phil The Thrill.

As in the past, those coming to the parade may donate toys to Toys for Tots by placing donations in the collection bin located at Denim Coffee Shop before or after the parade.

The parade begins at 7 p.m. and follows the usual route from East North Street to Hanover Street, but there is a significant change in that it will end just after the intersection of Hanover and Pomfret streets.

“It’s also important to know that the turnaround point is different than most parades in Carlisle, and different from last year. We’re cutting it short. It’s not going the whole way down to Wendy’s,” Trey Braun said.

That change allows the guest of honor, Santa Claus, to remain in the parade through the Square to the turnaround point. Then, he will come back up to the Square where Mayor Tim Scott will welcome him to Carlisle and present him with a key to the city. Then, Santa will throw his magic dust, which will turn on the lights on the Christmas tree.

From there, Santa will move to the his house on the Square where photos may be taken with him. Trey said no photos will be taken with Santa prior to the parade.

After last year’s large turnout, organizers this year have planned for rope lines to guide visitors to Santa’s house. The line will form until 8 p.m., and then it will be closed to newcomers.

The photos will be done by Cindy Strupp of Revelation Photography.

Mary Ann Brath, program coordinator at DCA, said Santa’s old house has been remodeled for use as a concession booth for both Christmas and Ice Art Fest, scheduled for February 9-11.

The concession booth will offer hot chocolate and hot cider.

The Army Brass Quartet will play music for a community Christmas carol sing. Songbooks will be available, but Trey said they are requesting that the books be returned at the end of the event so that they can be reused next year.

As in previous years, Benchfield Farms will offer carriage rides after it delivers Santa to the Square. Carriage, sleigh and wagon rides will continue to be offered as weather permits on Fridays and Saturdays through Christmas, with rides on the weekend before Christmas by reservation only for private parties.

Reservations for all other rides are not required, but are recommended, said Traci Morrison of Benchfield Farms.

Morrison said the farm used to do an event at the Army War College, and those who saw the horse trailer would ask where they could get rides. They got in touch with Downtown Carlisle Association and began offering carriage rides a few weekends each season.

“It has really blossomed to where we have a lot of people coming out,” she said. “It’s really neat to see the Christmas spirit it brings out in people.”

Following the caroling at 9 p.m., “Home Alone” will be shown at Carlisle Theatre. Admission is free, and concessions may be purchased. There will also be door prizes for children and adults.

Trey Braun encouraged downtown businesses to stay open for the parade and its activities.

“If the downtown is open, all those people that will be coming to the parade will remain downtown and continue shopping and eating and drinking,” Trey said.

Leesa Braun said that those going to the parade should also take advantage of what the downtown has to offer.

“I think we’d also like to encourage the patrons of the parade to take a break and go have dinner at one of the restaurants in town before the parade starts. Make a fun night of it with the family,” Leesa said.

Brath said other downtown events that weekend are not run by the DCA, but add to the spirit.

Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy has organized its newest event to begin Dec.1 and continue through Dec.8. The inaugural “Spot the Santa” event features more than 20 businesses and retail establishments downtown. During that week, passports to participating businesses can be picked up at Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy, 56 W. High St.

Though the event is designed for adults, children can assist their parents as they look for a small Santa Claus figurine hidden inside each participating business throughout the week. When visitors spot the Santa in the business, the host business will stamp the passport. Passports can be picked up at any time during the week, and participants can take as much time as needed to complete the mission up through the 8 p.m. deadline on Dec. 8.

Completed passports are then returned to Georgie Lou’s for a discount card good for 10 percent off one item at each of the participating businesses as well as a chance to win a box of Christmas goodies from Georgie Lou’s.

First Presbyterian Church will host the annual Carlisle CARES wreath auction. The silent auction will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church courtyard.

Shop the Block will hold its annual “Shots with Santa” event Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Visitors can sample “shots” of food and beverages as well as take “selfie shots” at stores on West Pomfret and South Hanover streets.

The Carlisle Theatre will host its annual showing of “White Christmas” at 7 p.m. Saturday. The film will have the lyrics of its classic songs embedded on the screen. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $4 for children.

Email Tammie at Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.