COVID-19 can't stop Christmas celebration in Greencastle
COVID-19 came close, but it could not sideline the Christmas celebration in the Greencastle-Antrim community.
The Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce originally thought the 30th annual Heritage Christmas would have to be canceled, but a modified version of the celebration will be held downtown on Friday evenings along with outdoor activities at the High Line Train Station on South Jefferson Street and Allison-Antrim Museum on South Ridge Avenue.
"I do think our community needs a sense of continuity this year," said Valerie Meyers, interim executive director of the chamber. "With so many changes, people are so hungry to have normal things."
The tree-lighting ceremony could not be held due to limits on gatherings, but when the illuminated tree was shared on Facebook, it garnered 20,000 views, Meyers said. She added that Heritage Christmas gets the community involved, and there are great sponsors for the celebration, which also includes the Shop Small Sweepstakes, Light It Up contest, Naughty or Nice List and Santa's Mailbox.
"Businesses really stepped up to hold things together," Meyers said. "They really showed commitment to pulling off Heritage Christmas this year. They're impressive and generous."
The hallmarks of Christmas, including Santa Claus, entertainment and the involvement of community groups, return again this year during Heritage Christmas from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays, Dec. 4 and 11, around Center Square and just beyond.
Santa Claus will be found practicing social distancing on the parking lot of the Life Center on North Carlisle Street. Santa will be inside an antique red pickup truck for photos with children outside the vehicle.
Meyers cited recent information for curbing the transmission of COVID-19 from state Rep. Paul Schemel's newsletter that is appropriate for Heritage Christmas — wear a mask when in a public space like a store, wash your hands frequently and maintain social distancing when possible.
There will be "liberal room" between participants around the Square, Meyers said.
The lineup includes soup and hot dogs by Mason-Dixon BSA Troop 99; festive treats by Sprint, Hagerstown; free soup, cookies, coffee and hot chocolate by Greencastle Foursquare Church; card making at Chatty Chameleon; giveaways by Baltimore Life Companies; goodies by Peak Performance Physical Therapy; s'mores by Rhodes Grove Camp and Conference Center; goodie bags by OSI of Hagerstown; and treats by Visiting Angels.
Visitors also can make purchases from Mama K's Buns, Lizzy's Restaurant Food Truck, Biser Farms and Jan Zell Wines. The 2020 Heritage Christmas ornament will be for sale in the Holiday House on the northwest corner of the square, where Light It Up contest votes and Naughty or Nice List nominations can be dropped off.
Entertainment on Dec. 4 will be by the G-AHS Choir at 5:30 p.m. and Calvary Mennonite at 6:30 p.m.
On Dec. 11, entertainment will be by Shayne Carmack, 5:30 p.m.; Growing with Music/Cumberland Valley School of Music, 6:30 p.m.; and King's Carolers, 7:30 p.m..
Favorite characters back for Heritage Christmas will include Apple Annie, Uncle Bean and his balloon creations, snowmen, elves and the Christmas Angel.
High Line Train Station
It will be “All Aboard” for Heritage Christmas and more at the High Line Train Station from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays, Dec. 4, 11 and 18.
The grounds will be illuminated with Christmas lights, and a G-scale model railroad train will run on the brick patio of the station’s front grounds. Volunteers from Lilian Besore Memorial Library and BSA Troop 199 will hand out treat bags and books for visiting children.
In addition, the High Line Train Station’s annual handmade, limited edition Christmas ornament will be available for curbside pickup. The fourth in the series features the rear canopy of the station, where for over half a century thousands of passengers boarded or disembarked from passing trains and their associated rail adventure.
The stoneware ornaments are hand thrown and kiln fired by a Greencastle artist who donates all of the proceeds to the train station for repairs and restoration efforts. The ornaments cost $15 and can be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange payment and pickup.
A "living holiday scene" — the decorating of a Christmas tree — will take place on the kitchen porch of Allison-Antrim Museum from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays, Dec. 4 and 11. The decorated one-horse open sleigh will be in its traditional place on the Irwin House porch.
Susan Shaffer will again lead the museum's annual paint-your-own-ornament sessions, but they will be held in her studio and via Zoom, instead of in the barn at the museum. Group sizes are limited, sessions are from 4 to 5 p.m.; 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; and 7 to 8 pm. and registration is available at https://app.getoccasion.com/xp/C8VH5FJh.
Other chamber activities
Registration is wrapping up for the Light It Up contest and participants will be announced soon. The winner is selected by $1 votes, with the money going to the Greencastle-Antrim Food Pantry.
Last year, there were 15 homes in the contest, which raised $705 for the food pantry. Votes can be placed at Holiday House during Heritage Christmas, at the chamber office, 217 E. Baltimore St., and online at: https://greencastlepachamber.org/light-it-up-voting/
For $3, local residents can nominate someone for Santa's Naughty or Nice List. Nominees will receive a postcard letting them know they are on Santa's list.
“With 2020 giving so many folks frustration upon frustration, Santa’s Naughty or Nice List is a new twist to bring some fun to the season,” Meyers said. “Be sure your friends, family — or enemies — end up on the right list this Christmas!”
Among those already on Santa’s Nice List are Mrs. Claus, Dancer and Prancer. Those on Santa’s Naughty List include the Abominable Snowman, The Grinch and, of course, COVID 19.
Shop Small Saturday was Nov. 28, but people are encouraged to continue to shop at local businesses and participate in the Shop Small Sweepstakes, which runs through Dec. 15. Participants are asked to shop at five different Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce member locations and take their receipts as proof of purchase to the chamber office to be entered into a drawing for one of three $25 cash prizes. For a complete list of chamber members, pick up a membership directory at the chamber office or visit the online directory at www.greencastlepachamber.org
“The purpose of the contest is to encourage shoppers to spend their holiday dollars locally. Especially now, with our small businesses feeling the effects of COVID, the loyalty and support of the community is vital,” Meyers said. “Imagine our town without it’s small businesses, and you’d be imagining a place without the neighborly smiles or friendly hellos that greet you when you walk through the doors of our local shops. We have so many great retailers and services just outside our own front doors that shopping local is super convenient. By shopping locally, we’re supporting our neighbors and strengthening our whole community by circling those holiday dollars back into the community.”
Local children can drop their letters to Santa in his bright red mailbox on the northeast corner of the Center Square in Greencastle. If they include their address, they will receive a reply.
For more information, call the chamber at 717-597-4610 or visit the website www.greencastlepachamber.org.