A brightly decorated Christmas tree and muggy weather greeted families Saturday as they arrived in Heritage Park to kickoff Denison’s Christmas in July celebration.

The party only lasted until Saturday evening this week, but the celebration will continue on July 29 and the sales offered at downtown merchants will continue for the next two weeks.

Denise Medrano was one of the handful of vendors that turned out to take advantage of the park’s stream of families who were there to visit with Santa and play in the bounce houses. She said considering the number of people who had said they didn’t know anything about the event, the turnout was nice.

Downtown Denison Inc. Vice President Derrick Roberts said the group wants to do more events that welcome people to downtown, especially once the cooler weather arrives. Providing entertainment for the family in the park on Main Street is just one small way, he said, to encourage them to walk up and down Main Street and explore the many shops there.

Roberts said he was pleased with the number of people who had been coming and going through the park Saturday.

“It is a shorter event,” he said and explained they wanted to keep it that way for the kickoff.

Roberts said the weather didn’t seem to be keeping people away, especially with the number of vendors there who were offering cold and sweet treats.

Kyla Johnson, 8, said the rolled ice cream got her vote for the best thing happening at the park Saturday. She said she was looking forward to sitting on Santa’s lap and telling him her Christmas list, though she said it was a bit confusing to see him out and about on such a warm day. Her mother, Courtney Johnson, said the event was cute and her children seemed to be genuinely enjoying the bounce houses and treats.

Roberts said Downtown Denison Inc. will keep what seems to have worked for this event and tweak the things that maybe didn’t work as well to make sure next year’s Christmas in July is even bigger and better. But he was quick to point out that people can still shop for holiday finds at merchants in downtown through the end of July.