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Christmas arrives at Fort Loudon

December 06, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

FORT LOUDON, Pa. - While a crowd on the square in Fort Loudon sang "Jingle Bells" by candlelight, bells were heard approaching, and soon the song leader changed the tune to "Here Comes Santa Claus."

A few moments later, a farm wagon pulled by two draft horses emerged from between the bank and the community center, and Santa Claus officially arrived in Fort Loudon Sunday night.

Santa climbed out of the wagon bed with a "ho, ho, ho." The draft horses, with bells on their harnesses and red bows on their tails, waited while he lighted the town's star-topped Christmas tree to a cheer from the crowd.

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Santa's helper, Jessica Long, 13, of Fort Loudon, rode with him on the wagon.

Some children ventured up to pat the horses after the lighting, while others went to the community center for a visit with Santa. He listened to their requests and gave each child a gift and an orange.

Sierra Beecher, 14 months, held by her father, Chad Beecher of Fort Loudon, touched the horses' heads.

Her mother, Sandy Beecher, said Sierra is probably hoping for "things with Elmo and Pooh."

Sierra's sister, Hope Semple, 9, and brother, Kyle Semple, 7, also attended.

Sandy Beecher said her family "is blessed this year, and we're more into giving than receiving."

Kelsi Amber Parson, 3, covered her eyes and had to be encouraged to sit on Santa's lap.

Later, Kelsi said she asked Santa for "bell shoes and a bell dress." Her sister, Kayla, 7, requested a Barbie singing doll, Bella Dancerella, a baby doll and a Video Now.

Anna Rotz, president of the Fort Loudon Historical Society, estimated the crowd at the inaugural event at 150.

"I stopped counting at 100, and more people came after that. It was an excellent turnout," she said.

While some families took wagon rides, others followed the luminaria-lighted paths a short distance to visit the Iron Museum and a historical display in the Fort Loudon library.

The Iron Museum, housed in a small log cabin dating to the late 1700s, displayed local antique blacksmith and forge work.

Much of the memorabilia at the library is from the collection of Fort Loudon resident Richard E. Hurst.

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