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Hagerstown City Park lit up

'Record crowd' attends celebration

'Record crowd' attends celebration

November 30, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN ? Like Santa Claus acknowledging his reindeer, Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II called out each light display at City Park just before it illuminated.

"The penguin!"

On came the lights.

"And the skating bear!"

The kickoff to Friday's festival was the lighting of a blue spruce donated by Sara Dickey of Hagerstown. It stood at least 20 feet tall, smack in the middle of the lake.

"We have the only tree that floats, ladies and gentlemen," quipped NBC25 weatherman Lou Scally, the master of ceremonies.

A group of Girl Scouts sang carols until Santa arrived on a tractor-pulled hay trailer. The countdown began.

10 ... 9 ... 8 ...

At 1, the tree lit up, throwing flashes of red and blue and green into the dark sky.

Then, Bruchey, with help from the Scouts, announced each smaller display before its lights went on.

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"Teddy bear!"

"Firetruck!"

"This year, a new addition," the mayor finished up, "the toy soldier!"

'We've had a record crowd'

From there, the crowd dispersed through the park for the rest of an evening of fun.

People streamed from the outside chill into the toasty Mansion House Art Gallery.

"It's been insane ...," said Marjorie Tressler, the president of Valley Art Association, filling a punch bowl. "We've had a record crowd."

In one room, cellist Mia Hoover and the Rhinelanders, a German band, took turns playing Christmas songs. Hoover, a Herald-Mail editorial assistant, played "Good King Wenceslas," then the band played "Frosty the Snowman."

Inside the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, guitarist Pete Lancaster was a pied piper for children who jumped around to his peppy music.

"You've gotta dance a little," he prodded the few who were standing still, as he launched into a "Jingle Bells" intro on his harmonica ? again.

"I've only sung the song about 10 times tonight," he mentioned as an aside to adults near him.

Gallons of hot chocolate, three cakes and 200 brownies served

Ashley Keefer of Hagerstown captured the festive mood by snapping pictures on her cell phone as her daughter, Jayda Sandridge, 4, danced.

Keefer's son, Jayvien Sandridge, 8, was more focused on a scavenger hunt.

More than an hour into the festival, the line into the Hager House Museum, where refreshments were served, had finally dwindled.

City Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh was in her familiar spot serving hot chocolate. The 13th of 15 gallons was almost gone.

Three cakes and more than 200 brownies had been served.

"I hope we don't have any irate people when we run out," she said with a smile.

Miguel Rivera sipped hot chocolate near his wife, Samantha, and their children, Avah, 4, and Josslyn, 3.

"It's been great," Miguel Rivera said. "I've been here (in Hagerstown) eight years and this is the first time I've come."

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