Rick Charette and the Bubble Gum Band – accompanied by a singing Santa Claus – performed jazzed-up versions of holiday music Friday evening as part of the Portland Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Monument Square.

On a day when shoppers crammed stores looking for Black Friday specials and enjoyed Thanksgiving leftovers, families gathered in the square for an old-fashioned sing-along and tree lighting.

“Santa is cool!” said Colton Letarte, 7, of Saco. His friend Charlotte Hill said she was surprised to see Santa belting out tunes in a gravelly voice and trading verses with Charette.

“I didn’t know Santa could sing,” said Charlotte, a fourth-grader and also from Saco.

Santa had emerged from a Portland firetruck to loud cheers.

With a crowd of a few thousand strong on a cold, still night, Charette’s blend of simple children’s humor and sunny demeanor warmed the revelers. He sang about how much Mainers like snow – and about wanting a hippopotamus for Christmas – before the band transitioned from 1970s easy-listening stylings to jazz-infused renditions of “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Before Charette’s set, the Maine State Ballet performed a piece from “The Nutcracker” with a toy soldier, mice and ballerinas pirouetting to Tchaikovsky’s classic.

Meanwhile, KG Freeze tore through a hard rock version of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on the second floor of the Bank of America Building at One City Center, inspiring people to dance in the streets.

Representatives from the Make-A-Wish Foundation turned the switch to light the tree, a more than 50-year-old Colorado blue spruce owned by David Little and Mikki Jones-Little of Portland. The couple said last week that the tree had started to lose its needles and would have needed to be cut down in a few years anyway.

About 4,000 lights adorn the 45-foot tree.