Under a nearly full moon, New Canaan residents flocked to Elm and Main streets Friday night for the official commencement of the holiday season -- the Holiday Stroll, organized by the Chamber of Commerce.

Elm Street was blocked off from traffic and bookended with an arc of red, white and green balloons, between the bounds of which more than 1,000 New Canaanites -- by police estimates -- assembled over the course of the evening, according to Laura Budd of the Chamber of Commerce.

On a stage set up on Park and Elm streets, which became a sort of town square, there was performance of "Two Little Snowflakes" by the Magical Music for Life Foundation, followed by children singing Christmas carols from the Studio Performing Arts program and the New Canaan Performing Arts Conservatory. Students of the New Canaan Dance Academy also performed.

Near the stage, people gathered around a fire pit, which was donated for the event and will find a new home at the Exchange Club of New Canaan's Christmas tree sale at Kiwanis Park.

Many of the stores and other businesses on Elm Street stayed open late for the night. elm restaurant offered free chestnut soup samples. William Raveis Real Estate had a party with food and wine. The Ralph Lauren store offered complimentary white wine to customers and passersby.

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Starbucks was full of people. "It's always packed for this night. Lots of little ones," Starbucks barista Jamal Beau said between orders that tended to the likes of lattes and cappuccinos.

On Monday, Budd said the feedback from merchants has been extremely positive.

First Selectman Rob Mallozzi and chamber Executive Director Tucker Murphy thanked the crowd for attending and offered an official beginning to the season. Mallozzi sacrificed fashion in the name of festivity, wearing a pair of bright green pants with small holiday insignias on them.

"I only wear them once a year," he said, telling people to enjoy the sight while they could.

From the stage, Santa led a countdown to lighting the trees up and down Elm Street that will remain lit at night through the middle of January. Santa Claus proved to be still popular with children, who were seen jumping up and down following his arrival.

Santa came to town atop the cab of Old Faithful, a vintage fire truck housed in New Canaan and brought out for town-wide celebrations. Mrs. Claus and an elf sat beside him.

On Saturday, the festivities continued with photo-ops with Santa Claus, a stilt walker and more entertainment on Elm Street.

Aside from the planned entertainment and the commercial festivities, the spirit of Friday night may have come as much from people being together with their families and neighbors in one picturesque place on a chilly December night.

twoods@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4413; @Woods_NCNews