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A bit 'tardy', Santa still brightens ceremony

November 27, 2005|By PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - It took a few rounds of singing, but Santa Claus finally came to town Saturday night, pulling into Hancock Town Hall's parking lot in a rescue squad pickup truck - lights flashing, siren blaring.

The Rev. Anne Weatherholt of St. Mark's Episcopal Church led a crowd of about 50 people gathered outside Town Hall for the annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

When Santa didn't come after a few rounds, the crowd sang a few more.

At the start of each song, Weatherholt looked down the street for Santa Claus and drew out the first word, encouraging the crowd to get louder.

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"Ohhhhhhh," Weatherholt sang.

"You better sing louder, Kobe," Melinda Fink, 33, told her 4-year-old son, who was bundled up, occasionally waving a candle. Kobe blurted out "better watch out" and a few other parts of the song, but mostly looked for Santa through the legs of the people standing beside him.

When the Hancock Fire & Rescue pickup truck pulled up, Santa made his exit from the passenger side and proceeded to greet the children, taking their hands and warming them.

The ceremony Saturday started inside Town Hall with a few Christmas songs, played by members of the Hancock Middle-Senior High School band, the Tri-State Civic Band, a few guest musicians and Mayor Daniel Murphy.

Weatherholt led the group in prayer and then shared a Christmas story about a fir tree that longed to be picked as "The Perfect Christmas Tree."

"Did you know that there are no perfect Christmas trees?" she asked the crowd.

In her story, Weatherholt said "the queen" would go out into the woods every year to pick the perfect tree, prompting all the trees to try to make themselves look flawless when she went by them on her sleigh.

One fir tree, Weatherholt said, also shared that ambition. But when a rabbit ran to the tree to seek refuge, it bent its limbs to protect it. When a bird flew into the tree during a big storm, it wrapped its limbs around it to keep it safe. When a deer needed food, it offered its branches to eat, she said.

When the queen came to pick her tree, she found that fir - bent and bitten - and noticed that it had helped the forest's animals.

"It may not be the most beautiful tree, but I know this tree has been the best little tree in the woods," Weatherholt said, quoting the queen. "This year, this will be the perfect Christmas tree."

Misty Mentzer, 31, of Hancock, was happy to be a part of the celebration.

"It's nice to show that you have the spirit for those who might need a little extra," she said.

Mentzer said she loves Christmas and is certainly ready for it.

"I still have some shopping, but that's trivial compared with having the spirit," she said.

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