Holiday festivities fill the Square — and beyond — for Heritage Christmas in Greencastle

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

Bryce Welter's eyes were big as he watched the model train round the track at the High Line Train Station in Greencastle Friday evening with his great aunt Jen Adams.

"I don't know if we're going to be able to tear him out of here," Kate Welter said of her young son.

Jen Adams, at left, visited the High Line Train Station with great-nephew Bryce Welter during Heritage Christmas on Dec. 3, 2021.

Bryce's family — which also includes father Nick and sisters Kendall and Riley — made the 3 1/2-hour trip from Butler to spend the weekend with Adams and her husband, Butch.

It's an annual holiday journey "to do some fun Christmas things with the kids," Kate Welter said.

Their stop at the train station came Dec. 3 after they enjoyed other Heritage Christmas activities, including a horse-drawn wagon ride, a visit with Santa and food.

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"It's a beautiful night, and we're thrilled," said Debby Cunningham, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the celebration held the first two Friday nights in December.

"It's great how the community came out," Cunningham said, noting the diverse group of vendors around Center Square.

A number of church groups were on hand, giving out treats, serving up soup, providing information on their services and letting people know about everything from the high quality clothing available free at Grace's Closet at Grace United Church of Christ to dodge ball for kids every Wednesday evening at First United Methodist Church.

Members of Calvary Mennonite Church sang on Center Square during Heritage Christmas on Dec. 3, 2021, in Greencastle.

Christmas music filled the air, performed by members of the Greencastle-Antrim High School chapter of the Tri-M National Music Honor Society and Calvary Mennonite Church, and the horse-drawn wagon passed by the Christmas tree during trips around town.

There was quite a line to get balloon creations from Uncle Bean, and people of all ages toasted marshmallows over a fire for s'mores courtesy of Rhodes Grove Camp and Conference Center.

Local scouts opted for festive looks. Members of Girl Scout Troop 80161 sang carols costumed as elves, Santa and a snowman, while some boys from BSA Troop 99 sported seasonal headgear to serve up hot dogs and soup.

Brodie Hull got a balloon creation from Uncle Bean at Heritage Christmas in Greencastle on Dec. 3, 2021.

The Bishop brothers — Rocky III, Landon and Colton — got apples from Apple Annie, also known as MaryGrace Holcomb. They came from Clear Spring, Md., to Greencastle for Heritage Christmas, and Santa's red truck is provided by their aunt and uncle, Tracey and Donald Perry.

Apple Annie, also known as MaryGrace Holcomb, shared fruit with brothers Rocky Bishop III, Landon Bishop and Colton Bishop at Heritage Christmas on Dec. 3, 2021, in Greencastle.

Again this year, in a nod to COVID-19 and social distancing, Santa sat in the antique pickup in the parking lot of the Life Center, with youngsters standing on boxes to share their wishes and smile for pictures.

Landon Stuller and his mother Amanda Plyler visited Santa Claus during the Heritage Christmas celebration in Greencastle on Dec. 3, 2021.

Many people made their way to the train station before the evening was over.

"Out of all the years I've been in Greencastle, I've never been here," Olivia Dodson, 17, a lifelong resident, said as she stood with her friend Ellie Sprankle. "It's pretty cool, I like the train display."

Other families traveled to South Ridge Avenue for the Christmas open house at Allison-Antrim Museum.

Bonnie Shockey, president of the museum board, greeted them in Civil War period attire like the lady of the house, Martha Irwin, may have worn in 1860.

Bonnie Shockey chatted with Zack Spidel and his stepson, Cooper Christman, during the Heritage Christmas open house at Allison-Antrim Museum in Greencastle on Dec. 3, 2021.

Shockey said it was a nonstop evening as visitors took in the old-fashioned decorations, saw creches from around the world from the collection of Kitsie Hicks and listened to instrumental music by Connie Bishop and Pat Beard.

Heritage Christmas continues

Heritage Christmas festivities return from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10.

The entertainment lineup includes St. Maria Goretti Chorus, 5:30 p.m.; Cumberland Valley School of Music at 6:30 p.m.; and Shayne Carmack at 7:30 p.m.

David Pittman, left, and Trentyn Pence served popcorn at the Life Center during the Heritage Christmas celebration in Greencastle on Dec. 3, 2021.

The Life Center will host Bings and Potts Puppet Show at 6:15 p.m. and a magic show at 7:30.

Information about Heritage Christmas also is available by calling the chamber at 717-597-4610 or visiting

Rolling along at the High Line Train Station

The High Line Train Station on South Jefferson Street will be open from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, during Heritage Christmas, and again on Friday, Dec. 17.

An O gauge model railroad display is set up in the main room.

Aleksander Paradzinski was excited to watch a model train go by with his father, Patrick Paradzinski, left, and fellow railfan Dave Bowen at the High Line Train Station during Heritage Christmas on Dec. 3, 2021.

In partnership with the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library, there is a reading program for kids in the back room.

Seating for the reading program is limited, and parents should contact the library (717-597-7920) to sign up. The library will be handing out free books and goodie bags for the children.

There will be three readings each evening, scheduled for 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30. Dec. 10 will feature “The Caboose Who Got Loose” for 4- to 7-year-old children and Dec. 17 will feature “The Polar Express” for children of all ages.

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