Heritage Christmas brings cheer to Greencastle during COVID-19 pandemic
Santa Claus sat in a red antique pickup loaded with presents at Heritage Christmas Friday evening in Greencastle.
The Jolly Old Elf sported a mask and was socially distanced from the children lined up on The Life Center parking lot for pictures.
"Everyone is doing their best to be safe and look out for one another," said Valerie Meyers, interim director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.
Some features of the 30th annual Heritage Christmas were the different, but the spirit was the same, as the celebration was held during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before or after they saw Santa, kids and their families could enjoy hot chocolate courtesy of The Life Center, but they had to make it themselves after picking up a cup of hot water and plastic bag containing hot cocoa mix, a candy cane and a stirrer.
On Center Square, Rhodes Grove Camp and Conference Center offered make-your-own s'mores over an open fire then sanitized the roasting forks after each use.
Mr. Bean and his balloon creations are a longtime Heritage Christmas hit, and the line was long as children waited their turn.
"It's a little bit of normal," said Heather Baer, who was with her children, Daniel and Grace Baer, and mother Deb Shank.
"I'm so glad we could do this," said Shank, adding she was enjoying the atmosphere in a time dominated by COVID-19.
Meyers said she was almost brought to tears by how excited everyone was to participate.
"It's truly cheerful. I think people are looking with sadness at the next few weeks, and this is a way to be together before we have to buckle down," said Meyers, referring to the latest COVID-19 measures from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. Last week, the governor ordered some business closed and placed limits on gatherings until at least Jan. 4, as infections, hospitalizations and deaths have surged.
One lady visited the chamber's Holiday House and said how glad she was for Heritage Christmas, according to Stan Flenner, president of the chamber board of directors. Flenner said, "We need to spread a little cheer."
Next to Holiday House, Peak Performance Physical Therapy was spreading that cheer to other businesses.
"We're a small local business, and we want to support the local community and promote community involvement," said owner Jeffrey Telemeco. Not only was Peak Performance giving away gift bags with its own promotional item, but people could sign up for a chance to win gift cards to four other local businesses — Greencastle Coffee Roasters, Bean and Biscuit, Teal Blossom Boutique and ELM Department Store.
Many families walked from the Square to Jefferson Street, where trees on the grounds of the High Line Train Station were adorned with lights. Instead of the usual indoor display, a G-gauge train circled an outdoor track.
It was hard to tell with masks on, but it seemed like everyone was smiling.
And up on Ridge Avenue, luminaries lit the sidewalk at Allison-Antrim Museum where Kate Kennedy and Joan Mohn decorated a tree on the front porch with old-fashioned items like popcorn, walnuts, cookies, popcorn and flags.