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Small town brightens holidays in a big way

November 30, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Town Manager Larry Logan described Saturday's holiday festivities this way - "It's just a small, simple tree for a small, simple town."

Still, more than 50 citizens of that small, simple town in far western Washington County turned out at the Hancock Community Center for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony which featured music, cookies, a dash of patriotism, a Christmas story and the arrival of Santa Claus.

The 15-foot evergreen tree was planted at the edge of the center property about five years ago. For the past four years, the Interfaith Service Coalition has sponsored the event while the Hancock Chamber of Commerce contributed an assortment of cookies and other goodies.

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"We used to have a cut tree that was put up each year," said Penny Pittman, president of the Chamber of Commerce. Debbie Cohill is director of the Interfaith Service Coalition.

Inside sheltered from the cold wintry winds, the Tri-State Civic Band joined with members of the Hancock Middle/Senior High Panther Band to play seasonal favorites for the assemblage.

Hancock Mayor Dan Murphy welcomed everyone to the annual event and hinted that a very special guest would be arriving when the Christmas tree was lit up for the first time.

A flag ceremony was performed by members of the Webster B. Harrison Post 26, Sons of the American Legion, who then led all in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

The Rev. Anne O. Weatherholt offered the invocation. Then she wowed the children of all ages with her rendition of a Christmas story which told of the religious significance of the candy cane.

"Upside down, it's a 'J' like the first letter of Jesus' name. Turned the other way, it looks like the staff of the shepherds who first saw Jesus when He was born," Weatherholt said.

The red stripes symbolize the pain Jesus suffered on the cross, Weatherholt said as she finished up her story.

Then everyone filed out of the center and lit a candle for the frosty walk down to the darkened tree.

Del. LeRoy T. Myers Jr., R-Allegany/Washington, was on hand with two of his grandchildren to officially light the tree.

"This is what Christmas is all about ... the children," Myers said. Everyone then sang "Silent Night" and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" while standing around the brilliant tree.

Just then, the silence of the night was broken by the siren of a Hancock fire truck which escorted Santa to the tree and the evening was complete.

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