Visitors find joy at Heritage Christmas

The high school Concert Choir was merry and bright on Center Square during Heritage Christmas.

The cold of winter did not keep people away from downtown Greencastle Friday night, as Heritage Christmas and First Friday exhibitors shared space. The sidewalks, streets, businesses and churches were full of delights for visitors of all ages.

The southeast corner of Center Square was filled while choral groups from Greencastle-Antrim High School performed. After entertaining with several songs of the season, Katherine Arnold asked her fellow choir mate, "Is this the last song? My feet are really, really cold."

It was not, and she warbled along with her peers to 'Joy to the World' and more.

Kala Stahl, Marita Shaffer and Kaitlin Moore strolled the sidewalks selling handcrafted snowmen to benefit the high school Art Club. They were pleased with the response from people, including some outright donations. Club members were also stationed at Bob's Florist and Gifts to do face painting.

Shelby Trail and Dakota Carlin, both 14, purchased coffee from Highline Coffeehouse and Cafe and kept warm on a corner. Inside, patrons enjoyed the accoustic blues of Greg Downs and Herb Golden, both from Hagerstown.

At Greencastle Presbyterian Church, people made Christmas cards for military personnel, which they will also be able to do on Dec. 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Greencastle Church of the Brethren hosted gingerbread decorating. People seeking relief from the chill could also watch the play "While You Were Sleeping" at Community Grace Church, or listen to carolers from Macedonia United Brethren Church at White Hall Manor Bed and Breakfast. This Friday the inn sponsors a living Nativity presented by Calvary Chapel of the Cumberland Valley from 6 to 8 p.m.

Matt and Michelle Kipe came to town with their children Laurel, 12, Addy, 10 and Wil, 1. Their main goal was to check out Anna's Paperworks. "The girls like to make Christmas tags and cards," said their mom.

First they stopped in at Dick, Stein, Schemel, Wine and Frey to see the oil paintings of Eliane Ambrose, and to hear Mark Miller play Christmas tunes and other music on guitar.

Joan and Scott Mohn exited The Auto Literature Shoppe with their sons Jacob, 12, Jack, 6, and James, 2.

"We're out to see Santa and shop," said Joan Mohn.

Indeed, Santa Claus was a popular figure during the evening. Over 120 children visited and had their pictures taken with the jolly old man. Hannah Knepper, 6, her sister Rylee, 8, and brother Eric, 3, came to see him, accompanied by their aunt and uncle, Karen and Roy Knepper. Lorelei Everly, almost 2, refused to get out of her stroller, even though it was the second attempt of her grandmother, Patti Allen, to introduce her to the generous elf.

Lorelei kept saying "No!' so Allen relented. "I think we're giving up," she said.

Aryanna Newlin, 4, hid behind her mother, Tandi Christophel, but then found courage. She told her mom to sit down next to Santa first, and then sat on her lap.

The Greencastle Exchange Club accepted donations for the interactive session with Santa, with the money going toward its Christmas for Children program.

Outdoors, people gathered all night to snag horse and buggy rides. Patti Valentine brought her employees to the square "to have a good time and take a wagon ride."  Sandy Fink-Freeman and Linda Stoler, members of the Heritage Christmas committee, sold tickets to the 20 and 45 minute rides inside the Holiday House. Fire police maintained a presence until the last group returned at 9:15 p.m.

The marketplace was an attraction for many people. Ben and Melissa Black brought Lily, seven months, out in a stroller to chat with members of the Family Affair Relay for Life team, selling baked goods. Janet Slack and George Sweitzer said they came downtown every Friday of Heritage Christmas to shop and listen to the music.

Lael Horst, without mittens or a coat, passed out flyers for the Fresh Air Fund at The Jewelry Shop, and stepped indoors occasionally to see her friend Denise Hess, a photographic artist. "We've had pretty good traffic," said Horst.

Kim Beatty headed for home with her family, carrying a box of four tasty treats. "We came to see Santa and get apple dumplings from the ladies of the State Line church," she said, referring to Trinity United Church of Christ, which was  based at the square.

The festivities return Dec. 10 and 17. Merchant Jan Martin, ELM Department Store, observed the 20th annual celebration from his vantage point on Center Square.

"Heritage Christmas does a lot to keep an interest in downtown Greencastle," he said. "It strengthens our community. And it gives us good exposure for a new customer base."