Couple helps make Heritage Christmas special

December 16, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Dana Given, the executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce, said that when she needs something done for the community's annual Heritage Christmas celebration, she calls on the Connolleys.

"Whatever she needs, we'll do," said Tom Connolley, 51. He and his wife, Mary, 49, are regular volunteers for Greencastle's annual Christmas celebration.

This year, Tom Connolley did some work on the little Heritage Christmas House that stands near Center Square during the December celebration.


He insulated the building, installed a new floor and new wiring, put up paneling and built a countertop. He also built four 4-foot-by-8-foot signs promoting the celebration. The signs have been installed along the four main roads leading to the borough.

Tom Connolley said he and his daughter, Amy, 18, spent nearly 70 hours working on the little building and the signs. Amy Connolley helped as part of her school's requirement that seniors complete a community service project before graduating.

Mary Connolley made costumes for eight elves, a snowman and snowwoman, plus two Victorian dresses for people taking part in the Christmas celebrations.

"Next year, I'm going to make costumes for reindeer," she said. She does her sewing on her dining room table. Tom Connolley does his handiwork in a basement workshop.

The Connolleys live at 131 S. Ridge Ave. They have five girls ages 13 to 30. They also have three Labrador retrievers - Lucy, Nellie and Harriett.

They came to the Greencastle area 11 years ago. Tom Connolley was a Baltimore City police officer.

"Everything I did there was negative," he said. "We wanted our children to grow up in a positive atmosphere and this is a nice little community."

They have been involved with the Christmas celebration since they came to Greencastle.

"The first year ... we saw the tree-lighting ceremony on the square and we got involved," Mary Connolley said. That first year, the Connolleys bought 300 brass bells for people to ring during the tree-lighting ceremony.

Residents keep the bells and bring them out for the ceremony every year, she said.

Tom Connolley is one of the judges of the annual holiday door-decorating contest.

"We get involved because we want to make Christmas special for children," Mary Connolley said.

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