Rock Hill's ChristmasVille came to a close Sunday evening, and organizers are calling it the best ever.
Featuring several new additions, including a 40-foot Ferris wheel, free pony rides and the Dickens Ball, the 4-day annual holiday festival attracted more people than last year, said festival and events manager Candy Clapp.
Last year, attendance estimates were in the range of 15,000 to 30,000 people. This year, said Clapp, the crowds were heavy since ChristmasVille kicked off Thursday night.
"It was absolutely the best we've ever had," she said Sunday after the festival wrapped up.
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"Everything just went great: The weather was great. The crowds were great. It was just like 'It's a Wonderful Life.'"
Big hits included the Ferris wheel, the ice skating rink in the Old Town Amphitheater and the parade.
The festival theme, "Angels Among Us," inspired an aerial act during the opening ceremonies of ChristmasVille - The Lighting of the Village.
The theme also tied in with the event's nonprofit partner, Agape Senior Foundation.
For $10, people could name an angel ornament in someone's memory. The proceeds went to benefit seniors and hospice patients in financial need.
People also were able to send a message in a Vernon Grant GI Joe Christmas card to troops overseas for just $1. Volunteers collected the cards and pay for shipping.
Six-year-old Jacob Heffner was looking forward to the real snow brought in for people to play in.
"It's fun," he said.
His mother, Michele Jolly, said they promised him he could go play in the snow at the end of the day so he wouldn't walk around wet all day.
"We come every year," she said. "We love it."
Mother and daughter Jackie and Madison Bruff visited the festival for the second time over the weekend to squeeze in a horse-drawn carriage ride.
A Michigan native, Jackie Bruff said ChristmasVille reminded her of several similar festivals in cities there.
"It's that small-town feel, and it gives a sense of community," she said.
"People get that feeling, and that's why they keep coming back," she said.
The festival was good exposure for local businesses and vendors at the gift market.
Tom Kapcheck, owner of Antiques & Stuff by Southern Cane on East Main Street, said the festival had brought 10 to 20 times more people in.
"It's pretty neat," he said of the festival.
Shelly Woodward with PuckerButt Pepper Company, which sells homemade jellies, salsas and hot sauces, also said ChristmasVille was great exposure.
"It's a great atmosphere; it's lots of people," she said. "They're doing a great job with it. It has a Dickens feel."
This was the sixth ChristmasVille, which has been named S.C. Event of the Year for the fourth year in a row.