Setting the scene for Santa

By on November 26, 2019

On Black Friday, Nov. 29, the 96th annual Downtown Christmas Tree Lighting and Santa Arrival will kick off the holiday season here.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., the evening will see a wonderland of fun and activities for “kids” of all ages — from toddlers to seniors — culminating with a dazzling laser light show, choreographed with music from the Lancaster-based Big Boy Brass Band.

Main Street, from Lake to State, will be closed to traffic starting at 3 p.m. to allow set up for the stage in front of Ephrata National Bank, and other vendors.
There were also be more food options this year.

“We have a lot more food vendors this year because the lines were so long,” said Linda Martin, a borough council and Mainspring chair of the Community and Events Committee. “We’ve also reached out to the brick and mortar stores downtown to bring out their goods and showcase their wares.”

In addition, free cookies and warm cider will be available at the Welcome Tent in front of Hometown Refurnishing.

The arrival of the Ephrata Christmas tree on Thursday morning, Nov. 21, 2019

The centerpiece of the festivities, the community tree, is always donated by a resident living in the borough. This year’s tree comes from well-known local attorney and former Ephrata Borough Council President Tony Kilkuskie.

Kicking off the program will again be a concert by the Getz Steam Calliope. At 6:30 the crotchety old Belsnickle arrives mounted on Lincoln Volunteer Fire Company’s antique fire engine.

Other activities include barrel train rides, jugglers and other street acts, and horse-drawn wagon rides. Adding to the harmonious spirit of Christmas, singers from Ephrata Performing Arts Center will blend their voices to the holiday music.

The evening’s fun will be emceed by I105 radio’s ever-popular personality Casey Allyn and her on-air partner Rich Creeger.

While waiting for Santa’s arrival, kids can find plenty to do at Toyland, otherwise known as Whistle Stop Plaza.

Around 7:15, the Belsnickle will bid everyone farewell until next year. His departure will be followed by the lighting of the tree.

The area got an early taste of winter with a fastarriving snowstorm last Sunday morning. The big flakes did provide for some lovely scenes around town however, and just may have gotten more in the spirit of seeing Santa come to town Friday. Photo by Andy Fasnacht.

Around 7:30, Santa and Mrs. Claus will appear on the roof of ENB and eventually make their way to his headquarters inside the train station, where the Jolly Old Elf starts taking Christmas wishes. Even though the event itself ends at 8 p.m., Santa’s lap will remain available until the last child visits.

While visiting Santa kids can sign up to win one of several prizes being given away. These include two gift baskets, one with crafts and one with games, or one of several bicycles. Entry is free and will run until Dec. 21. The drawing will be Dec. 23 and winners will be notified. The prizes are courtesy of a grant from Walmart.

For moms with small children, Reformed Presbyterian Church will provide baby changing and nursing stations at its facility along Rose Alley behind the train station.

After the tree lighting ceremony, Santa’s visiting hours will be Saturday Nov. 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hours for Thursdays and Fridays, Dec. 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20 are 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays Dec. 7, 14 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Santa’s headquarters will not be open Dec. 1-4.

This full story by Larry Alexander, a correspondent for The Ephrata Review, ran in the Nov. 20 edition. 

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