HIDALGO — Children took vantage of the empty road as their families waited in the block-long line for the toy drive on Thursday.

Using strollers and the legs of their parents as hiding spots while taking part in games of hide-and-seek, and letting out squeals and giggles in games of tag with friends, the children made the walk back to their cars with the same level of joy they had waiting in line, but now had their arms full with new toys.

These families were in line for the toy giveaway at the 19th annual Hidalgo Posada on Dec. 20, and 5-year-old Regina Romero was the first to receive a gift.

Waiting at the front of the line that stretched along Texano Drive were tables with arrays of toys laid out and a moving truck that was still full of soccer balls, action figures and dolls in preparation for the children. The drive, which was an effort by the city of Hidalgo, Hermes Music and Latin Grammy award winner Ramon Ayala, passed out 10,000 toys Thursday night.

Romero, a Las Milpas native, was given a pink tricycle with multi-colored streamers attached to its handles. She says that with her new ride, she plans to go to Peter Piper Pizza.

Hidalgo Mayor Sergio Coronado was the person who handed Romero the tricycle and he says that the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with the community is the reason for the event.

“It is a wonderful thing to be able to do, especially during this time of year,” Coronado said. “It is a great honor to be a part of this event, and you won’t find anything like this in the county. We want to reflect peace; we want to reflect love; we want to reflect unity.”

Festivities of the night started with the traditional posada presentation, in which members of the church reenacted the night Mary and Joseph sought shelter the night of Christ’s birth by traveling door to door around the neighborhood. Guests were also welcomed to enjoy the carnival and Festival of Lights, a 9-mile long illuminated light display that featured well-known characters like Pikachu and Shrek.

Prominent characters came from Dr. Seuss stories, following the same theme that the Hidalgo Illuminated Parade carried at the beginning of the holiday season. Complementing the theme, facing Hidalgo City Hall was a stage that exhibited a replica of Hidalgo — a town called “Who-dalgo,” which included an ornament shop and a Who-dalgo post office.

Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, was one of the representatives handing out gifts to the children at the drive and hopes that people do not forget what the true meaning of the holiday season is.

“I have been invited to so many toy giveaways in so many places this week and it is always beautiful to see the children’s faces and their big smiles,” Pimentel said. “It is so beautiful to give a bike to a child, or a skateboard or basketball. It is a beautiful way to come together to celebrate life and Christmas. This is a wonderful opportunity to rejoice and celebrate Jesus, who is always with us.”

Local mariachi ensembles and singers performed throughout the afternoon, leading up to renown accordionist and vocalist Ramon Ayala’s concert, which concluded the night.

Yamelly Rodriguez of Edinburg was waiting in line for the toy giveaway with three girls. This is her third year attending the Hidalgo Posada and was anticipating exploring the carnival with her family.

“I brought my kids here from Edinburg because they were really excited to get toys and get on the rides,” she said.