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It's beginning to look a lot like Heritage Christmas in Greencastle

November 12, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, PA. - Greencastle, with its more than 40 antique, gift, specialty and clothing stores, has created a commercial niche for itself and it hopes to promote that particular role with its Shoppes of Greencastle Holiday Open House this weekend, said Dana Given, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.

The event, which had been held for more than 30 years by the now-defunct Greencastle-Antrim Merchants Association, runs Friday and Saturday.

The merchants association called the promotion Merchants Open House. The association ran it every year to kick off the Christmas shopping season. It also ran Sidewalk Days, the summer sales event held every July.

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The association disbanded in February after its members decided it was best if Given and the chamber ran both events.

"The merchants felt the chamber could do a better job of coordinating them," Given said.

Two years ago, the Sidewalk Days event drew fewer than 25 vendors. This summer, Given brought in more than 90 vendors.

She changed the name of the November holiday promotion to Shoppes of Greencastle Holiday Open House. Stores in Greencastle and Antrim Township will offer special sales and preview their holiday inventories this weekend.

This year also marks the inauguration of the new Shoppes of Greencastle booklet, which came out in late October. It contains ads by more than 30 local merchants, a welcome by Given and a detailed map of the Greencastle-Antrim commercial area.

Given said 20,000 copies of the booklet have been printed for distribution across the Tri-State area through the chamber, participating merchants and welcome and visitor centers.

Next weekend marks the beginning of the 14th annual Greencastle Heritage Christmas Celebration.

The lighting of the traditional holiday tree on the Public Square takes place Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.

Residents may arrive at 6:30 p.m. to listen to music by the Shippensburg (Pa.) German Band.

Residents in period and character costumes will roam the square greeting people. Santa's elves - members of local Brownie Troop 793 - will hand out Christmas bells to children. Tradition calls for the children to ring their bells when the tree's lights are turned on.

"This year, we'll be giving out 750 bells," Given said. "We're also going to have an 11-foot-tall toy soldier on stilts as an added attraction."

The ceremony begins with former Mayor Frank Mowen dressed in traditional garb as the town crier. Mayor Robert "Red" Pensinger will officially herald in the Christmas season.

Given said this year's 30-foot-tall blue spruce tree was donated by Wayne and Stefanie Hart of 40 Edwards Drive.

"The tree will be lit with 2,800 lights and there will be another 3,000 lights around the square," she said.

The 2004 Lights of Love Scrolls honoring and commemorating loved ones will be displayed in the window of the First National Bank of Greencastle.

Free hot chocolate, popcorn and balloons will be distributed.

The hour-long Christmas parade begins Nov. 20 at 9:21 a.m. It begins at the corner of Ridge and Baltimore streets, proceeds down East Baltimore Street, turns left on Carlisle Street and ends at the Frank L. Carbaugh American Legion Post.

Santa Claus makes his official debut riding on a float.

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