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In the spirit

Events draw hundreds downtown to kick off holiday season in city

Events draw hundreds downtown to kick off holiday season in city

November 23, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - With a green Christmas tree drawn on her left cheek and a wrapped present drawn on her right, Savanna Smith was in the spirit of the annual tree-lighting ceremony at Hagerstown's Public Square Monday evening.

In addition to having her face painted at the event, Savanna, 7, was given a balloon in the shape of a reindeer, which she proudly wore on her head.

Asked to summarize the event, she said, "It is fun."

"It is good to see the community come together," her father, Russell Smith, said.

Linda Baker, 56, of Hagerstown, wore a reindeer on her head, too. She came to the event because it seemed like it would be fun, she said.

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The Smiths and Baker were among an estimated 800 people who were at Public Square to see the lighting of the Christmas tree and Santa Claus.

This year Harry "Buddy" Barton, 15, of Hagerstown, flipped the switch to illuminate the tree. Barton, who was diagnosed with chronic liver disease, last month was named Washington County's Most Wonderful Citizen for 2004.

While Barton was lighting the tree with a flip of a switch, members of Girls Inc. were singing "Jingle Bells," "Frosty the Snowman" and other holiday classics.

One of those singing was Sadie Frederick, 8.

Sadie later took advantage of the opportunity to meet Santa Claus. While she did not tell him what she wanted, she later said she was hoping to get Care Bears - especially ones that talk and glow.

William Neff, 3, and his mother, Kayla Cline, were among those waiting in line for a few moments with Santa.

William asked Santa Claus for race cars and racetracks.

Santa asked William to name his favorite NASCAR driver and the youngster said it was Elliot Sandler.

"Santa follows his racing," the jolly old elf said.

Later, an estimated 1,000 people gathered at The Maryland Theatre for Hollyfest, which included performances by area bands, ballet dancers and others.

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