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Yule celebration labeled a success

December 04, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Waynesboro used Santa Claus, model trains, strings of white lights, wreaths and candy canes to attract people to the downtown this past weekend.

The shoppers and families that turned out were the reward of a coordinated effort of volunteers and businesspeople, according to proponents of downtown revitalization.

"The storekeepers I have talked to have been really pleased with the response," Downtown Manager Carole L. Malin said.

She said that nonprofit organization Main Street Waynesboro Inc. hosted Yuletide in Waynesboro for the first time to attract foot traffic to the town center. Main Street Waynesboro Inc. partnered with the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce for a weekend that proved to be a boost for downtown business.

"You've got to have something to bring people downtown," Malin said, explaining that it needs to be a destination for shoppers.

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"There are so many choices out there," she said.

Barry and Candace Sonne, who own Ace of Shades and Castle Fabrics and Home Decor, said that, on Saturday, five times more people visited their 44 W. Main St. store than on an average day.

"Every time they have an event, it behooves us," Barry Sonne said.

Shoppers selected animal-themed merchandise for gifts, Candace Sonne said.

"This weekend, we've sold screens, candles, artwork," she said.

The Sonnes also praised the volunteers who decorated the downtown for the holidays.

Malin is proud of the decorations in vacant storefronts and said she has gotten positive feedback about that effort.

"It just looks like the town is filled with business," she said.

Malin said there have been complaints about the changeover from one tree in Center Square to four on the corners, but there has been positive feedback as well. The Chamber of Commerce canceled the annual tree-lighting ceremony Friday night due to inclement weather, yet vehicles still crammed almost every downtown parking space.

"Even though we didn't do the tree-lighting, people were downtown moving around," Malin said.

Four-year-old twins Makena and Marlee Berry of Waynesboro saw Santa Claus on Sunday at the Furniture Market, and each asked him for a pink dollhouse. They were some of the last visitors to Sunday's Yuletide in Waynesboro, which saw most of its activity during an early afternoon showing of the movie "Open Season."

"We planned on coming earlier, but we ended up wrapping presents," said Angie Berry, the twins' mother.

Marigrace Falconer from Fairview Elementary School's PTO guided children through Santa's Secret Workshop at the former Beck & Benedict Hardware Store. Children were given the opportunity to purchase inexpensive gifts for family and friends.

"The flashlights were very popular (and) anything that said 'Mom,'" Falconer said. Most shoppers were younger than 11, she said.

The former hardware store at 84 W. Main St. also hosted a model train display by the Waynesboro Lions Club. The display was built and painted by residents of Quincy Village, Lion Ed Miller said.

"It's very portable, but it's also very fragile," he said, while a fellow Lion signaled the engine to puff smoke for a young girl.

The display was brought to the Yuletide in Waynesboro celebration at the request of the Chamber of Commerce, Miller said.

"Since we're the Waynesboro Lions Club, we'd like to see the downtown flourishing again," he said.

Malin said next year's events will probably span more than one weekend.

"I do know the stores have felt it was worthwhile," she said.

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