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Large tree brings cheers to square in Waynesboro

November 22, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The weather outside was frightful, but for those who braved the cold night air, seeing a large Christmas tree lighted again on the square in Waynesboro was delightful.

The planned reconfiguration of the square forced the borough in 2006 to seek an alternative to its typical large pine in the middle of town, so it traded in one big tree for four small trees on each corner.

Mainstreet Manager Bruce Dreisbach said residents never quite warmed to the four small trees that lighted each corner last year, so when he took over this year, his office sought a crowd-pleasing alternative.

"Who likes small Christmas trees?" he called out through the cold air Friday night. Met with boos, he asked another question.

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"Who likes large Christmas trees?"

As the crowd cheered, a large tree in the corner by Frank's Pizza swayed in the wind, waiting to be lighted.

Dreisbach said having a large tree on the corner is a compromise between the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regulation that the tree not sit in the very center of the square and the town's desire for a tree taller than 10 feet.

For those such as Michael Martin who grew to love the massive Christmas tree that made traffic a headache in December, the 2008 tree was a welcome return to the way things were.

When Linda Koons was growing up in Waynesboro, she said the borough's tree always was the cornerstone of Waynesboro's holiday celebration.

Christmas was different back then, Koons said.

"The snow was deeper, the shopping area was busier and there was music on the square," she said.

The Greater Waynesboro Area Chamber of Commerce has been working with Mainstreet Waynesboro Inc. to bring a thriving retail business back to downtown, and while Dreisbach said he is working on reviving that tradition, for the 2008 holiday season, he said there at least will be music.

From now through the first of the year, holiday music will play on the square, much as it did in the 1950s.

After 30 minutes in the chilly air, sipping on hot chocolate provided by the Waynesboro Lions Club, the town was ready to "light that tree!"

And as the brightly colored lights began to twinkle Friday, music filled the square and the crowd sought warmth in the downtown shops.

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