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MERRILLVILLE — Santa didn't need a sleigh Friday night.

He had a fire engine to take him around Merrillville.

With a police escort that was followed by Merrillville High School's Band of Pirates, Santa made his way Friday night to Pruzin Park to bring some holiday cheer to the municipality.

Many made their way to the facility to celebrate the occasion and get a chance to meet with the man in the red suit.

Following a procession that started at Merrillville Intermediate School, the band gathered outside of the community center and played holiday tunes as Santa mingled with those in attendance.

After a countdown, lights strung on many trees and the gazebo in the park were illuminated.

Santa then made his way to a throne that had a line of people waiting to visit with him.

Merrillville firefighter Perry Herzog was at the front of it.

He said it's his tradition to get a photo with Santa during the town's annual celebration.

After chatting with Santa and grabbing some pictures, visitors were treated to hot chocolate and cookies.

Many grabbed several cups of the warm drink to help combat the cold temperatures.

Parks Director Jan Orlich said Merrillville has been hosting the holiday event for several years. She said Friday night's program went by quickly because of the weather, but she was pleased with the turnout.

Those unable to attend will have plenty of chances to catch the town's light display at Pruzin. Orlich said the lights will be on until about 11 p.m. or midnight daily at the park near 57th Avenue and Harrison Street.

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