Heritage Christmas wraps up tonight

December 14, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Today is the final night of Greencastle-Antrim's 17th annual Heritage Christmas and the celebration, which began in November with the Shoppes of Greencastle, continued with the Christmas tree lighting and parade, and finished off with three nights of Heritage Christmas, has brought thousands downtown, according to Bill Gour, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.

"I think it's gone extremely well," said Gour, who has seen three Heritage Christmases as executive director and has lived in Greencastle for 15 years.

"We've had some good entertainers, nice carolers, nice participation from local churches in particular, and vendors," Gour said of the Heritage Christmas evenings. "There's something for everyone and the crowds have been really good."

Gour estimates that hundreds of people where drawn to downtown Greencastle for the first two Friday nights of Heritage Christmas on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7.


Some of the ways of measuring how many people came out each Friday night was by counting how many balloons DeWayne "Uncle Bean" Izer, the balloon bender, gave out, how many gingerbread cookies were decorated at the Greencastle Church of the Brethren and how many people took horse and buggy rides.

Gour said 120 gingerbread cookies were decorated Nov. 30 and 130 were decorated Dec. 7. He estimates more than 150 will be decorated tonight.

Uncle Bean gives out about 180 balloons each night at a rate of one per minute, Gour said.

Tickets for horse and buggy rides, courtesy of Keystone Classic Carriages of Mercersburg, Pa., were sold to 223 people by Dec. 7, Gour said.

For the final night of Heritage Christmas, 214 tickets have been sold so far for the horse and buggy rides, with 10 tickets remaining, Gour said.

In comparison to the first night of Heritage Christmas, 52 more tickets were sold the second week, Gour said.

"The first night always has the least amount of vendors and entertainers, and it also has the smallest crowd," Gour said. "You always know year after year that the first night will have the least amount of people."

"I think one of the reasons that the third week is bigger is the word of mouth from the past two weeks," Gour said.

The third Friday of Heritage Christmas is also different from the last two because there is more going on, Gour said.

Entertainers unique to tonight include a live remote by 94.3 WQCM, "Journey to Bethlehem" at Hollowell Brethren in Christ Church, Terry Musselman on the dulcimer, performances by the Greencastle-Antrim Concert Choir and Chamber Choir and caroling by Cedar Grove Mennonite Church and Salem Ridge Mennonite Church.

Vendors unique to tonight include Gerry Lute signing and selling copies of "The Life and Legacy of John L. Grove," a bake sale by the Greencastle-Antrim High School Choral Music Club, the First United Methodist Church giving away candy canes, the Cedar Grove Mennonite Church giving away free hot chocolate and treats and Raystown Forge/the Mermaid's Wheel selling pottery and glass items.

Tonight also will have its usual cast of costumed characters; Shirley Shatzer as Apple Annie, Stephanie Ziebarth as the Christmas Angel, Russ and Dody Clever as Two Nuts and a Bolt and Frank Mowen as the Town Crier.

Children can also decorate gingerbread cookies at the Greencastle Church of the Brethren, get balloons from Uncle Bean and get pictures taken with Santa Claus at the First National Bank of Greencastle.

Gour said he believes many downtown stores and restaurants saw extra business during the Friday nights of Heritage Christmas.

"It's going very well," said Loren Martin, one of the owners of E.L.M Shoes in Greencastle. "Heritage Christmas always generates nice traffic for us."

"If we look at our business on other nights we're open vs. Heritage Christmas, ... it's easily close to double," he said.

The store, which has been in town since 1984, stayed open until 8 p.m. during Heritage Christmas evenings.

"If we look at Friday nights other times of the year when Heritage Christmas isn't going on - Heritage Christmas definitely increases our traffic," Martin said.

If you go

What: The third Friday celebration of Greencastle-Antrim's 17th annual Heritage Christmas. Events include food, vendors, crafts, photos with Santa Claus and entertainment.

When: Today from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

Where: Downtown Greencastle, Pa.

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