Deck the Halls: Greencastle gets ready for Heritage Christmas
The leaves only recently started to change colors, and temperatures have been slow to drop, but the Christmas season is just around the corner in Greencastle.
The multi-faceted Heritage Christmas celebration gets under way with the Down Town and Around Town Open House on Saturday, Nov. 6, and continues through the first two Friday evenings in December.
The festivities are accompanied by traditions like Lights of Love dedications, Heritage Christmas ornament, Shop Small Sweepstakes, the Light It Up contest and, new this year, a pet photo contest.
The open house is intended to "encourage people to come downtown" and visit the shops decorated for Christmas, said Debby Cunningham, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.
Shoppers will find free parking, which begins that weekend and continues throughout the holiday season, courtesy of Ganoe Paving. There's also a Christmas bazaar at First United Methodist Church from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., so there will be "lots of shopping downtown on Nov. 6."
Missing last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the tree-lighting ceremony will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19. Traditional carols will be sung and bells will be rung as the community gathers around the tree on Center Square.
A local child selected by VerStandig Media to be the grand marshal of the Christmas parade that begins at 9:21 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, will illuminate the Christmas tree Friday evening. The tree will be adorned "Lights of Love" in honor and memory of loved ones.
“I’m glad the Christmas tree-lighting tradition can be held again this year after last year’s hiatus,” Cunningham said. “The ‘Lights of Love’ sponsored by the community not only enhance the beauty of the tree, but also give it a special meaning.”
Just after Thanksgiving, comes Small Business Saturday on Nov. 27, which is a good time to enter the Shop Small Sweepstakes.
In keeping with pandemic precautions, Heritage Christmas activities planned from 5:30 to 8:30 Friday evenings, Dec. 3 and 10, will all be outside again this year.
"We're keeping it like last year because we're so unsure of where we might be with different variants," Cunningham said. "We want people to still be able to come together as a community, but keep safety in mind."
Santa Claus will be waiting outside The Life Center for photos, Uncle Bean will be doing his balloon creations, information will be available at the chamber's Holiday House and community and church groups will be set up around Center Square. Visitors can stroll down the street to the High Line Train Station and kids can put their letters in Santa's Mailbox on the Square.
'Lights of Love'
“Lights of Love” are available for purchase now and the cost is $8 for one name, $15 for two names or $20 for three names. Each additional name is $6. An acknowledgement card mailed to the honoree at no extra charge.
The names will be scripted on decorative scrolls, which will hang in the large corner windows of Growing With Music on the northwest corner of the Square and the Fran Kenawell State Farm office on the southeast corner of the Square.
In order for names to be be included on the scrolls, orders must be placed by Nov. 10.
Part of the family
Pets are highlighted in both the traditional Christmas ornament and a new contest this year.
Because so many new members joined families during the pandemic, this year's ornament is "Claus and Paws." It features a dog and three kittens under the mistletoe.
Ornaments are $20 each and available at All Things Country, consign & collect co., Lumber Direct and the chamber office.
People can also celebrate their new friends in the "Because Pets Are Family, Too" photo contest.
"The holidays are a time for making memories with family, pets included," according to Cunningham. "Get in the holiday spirit and grab a Santa hat for your dog, cat, rabbit, lizard, hamster or any other animal friend, because 'Pets are Family, Too.'”
The cost to enter is $10 per photo, and the cost to vote will be $1 in the categories most festive dog, cat and other animal. Proceeds will go to Antietam Humane Society, which serves the Greencastle-Antrim area, as well as Montgomery, Peters, Quincy, Warren and Washington townships and the boroughs of Mont Alto, Waynesboro and Mercersburg.
Photos should be submitted between Nov. 1 and 16. They will be displayed in windows of local businesses and online, with voting from Nov. 26 to Dec. 19.
Light It Up
Residents of the "Greencastle-Antrim area are invited to go all out with displays of lights and decorations that will delight the community this holiday season" and enter the Light It Up contest.
They need to enter by Nov. 30 and decorate by Dec. 1.
The community will decide the winner based on popular vote Dec. 1 to 19. Votes are $1 each, which will be donated to the Greencastle-Antrim Food Pantry.
Shop Small Sweepstakes
Cunningham encourages people to do their Christmas shopping at local businesses and enter the Shop Small Sweepstakes for a chance to win cash prizes.
To enter, shoppers need to make purchases at five different chamber member businesses between Nov. 20 and Dec. 17; fill out a Shop Small ticket; and take their receipts and ticket to the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber. Tickets are available at the chamber office, local businesses and, during Heritage Christmas events, at Holiday House.
Local residents will receive brochures in the mail and additional details can be found at GreencastlePaChamber.org/Christmas.
For more information, call the chamber office at 717-597-4610; stop by the office at 217 E. Baltimore St.; or visit the website.
Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at email@example.com