Red Friday

By on November 21, 2017

Santa’s elf guards the special book outside of the Ephrata National Bank vault.

There likely will be no snow to welcome Santa’s sleigh to the top of the Ephrata National Bank building Friday night, but otherwise the forecast appears almost ideal for one of downtown’s highlight events of the year.
The Millersville University Weather Center is calling for a partly sunny day this Friday with a high of 50 and a low of 38, but only a 10 percent chance of precipitation.
So get out those scarves and wool hats, grab some hot chocolate and join the masses for “Christmas in Ephrata,” hosted by Downtown Ephrata Inc. and the Ephrata Area Chamber of Commerce. East Main Street, from Lake to State streets, will be shut down between 4 and 4:30 p.m.. Festivities will kick off at 5:30 p.m. with music piped across town thanks to the Getz Steam Calliope. Costumed characters including Santa’s elves, Rudolph, Frosty and others will stroll the streets. There will be an expanded Toyland located at the Whistle Stop Plaza for the kids to wander through, barrel train rides, ice sculpting and horse-drawn wagon rides provided by Landis Valley Farm Museum. Food vendors and activities for young and old will also highlight the evening.
The Belsnickel, that traditional old German harbinger of Christmas, will arrive on the Lincoln Fire Company’s antique engine.
As for Santa, he will arrive around 7 p.m. on the roof of the Ephrata National Bank and be lowered to the ground by the Pioneer Fire Company ladder truck. He will then walk among the crowd on his way to the Railroad Station where he will set up his headquarters and begin hearing Children’s Christmas lists.
Hours for Santa’s house this season will be Thursday-Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. through Dec. 22.
The tree lighting will occur around 7:15 p.m. and a spectacular laser light show will cap the evening, although this year a new twist will be added. A display of pyrotechnics will be choreographed to the laser show.
After the tree is lit, a community sing-along of holiday favorites will follow.
The tree-lighting and carol sing-along has been an Ephrata tradition since 1923.
Besides the Christmas tree lighting and carol sing, another longtime Ephrata tradition will be observed; holiday movies at the Main Theatre and the free orange.
In bygone days, Ephrata’s youngsters were treated to a free movie on Christmas morning, with a box of candy and an orange being handed to the kids as they left. While the free candy and free movies are a thing of the past, Penn Ketchum, head of Penn Cinema which purchased the Main Theatre earlier this year, is offering $5 movies each Saturday at 10 a.m. from Nov. 25 through Dec. 16, with a free orange handed out to kids after the show.
The films being shown are the classic: “A Christmas Story” about a young boy wishing for a Daisy air rifle for Christmas (Nov. 25), “Elf” (Dec. 2), actor Jim Carrey’s hilarious “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (Dec. 9) and the animated “Polar Express” (Dec. 16).
Tickets for the holiday movies went on sale Nov. 1 and are first come, first served. They may be purchased in advance online at or in person at the box office.
Event sponsors include the Retreat at Lancaster County, as well as Wellspan Ephrata Community Hospital and Ephrata National Bank (tree lighting and Santa’s Arrival), Graham’s Auto Sales & Service (Laser Light show), R. E. Lamb (Pyrotechnical show), WNC CPAs and Consultants, LLC (Santa’s House) and Members 1st Federal Credit Union (horse drawn wagon rides).

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