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Pa. Christmas party is a day of activities

December 07, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

ROUZERVILLE, PA. - Ann Backer took a moment to catch her breath, straighten her fireman's hat and put on a smile before walking back into the Rouzerville Ruritan Club on Saturday.

Planning for an event like the Annual Santa's Breakfast is always a gamble, she said, and after making a second run for more pancakes to feed the hundreds of people who came that morning, she was beginning to feel the stress.

"It's hard to say how much food we served today," she said. "I do know we served about 2,000 pancakes alone."

Sharing breakfast with Santa Claus has been a long-standing tradition in Waynesboro, Pa., Backer said.

Four years ago, the tradition nearly died when the Rotary Club of Waynesboro opted to stop hosting, she said.

Wanting to keep the tradition alive, Backer approached the Rouzerville Business Association, which took the event and ran.

Every year, something gets bigger or better with celebration, Backer said.

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What started as breakfast has grown over the past four years to be a daylong celebration, complete with tours of fire engines, train rides at Red Run Park, free skating at Cosmic Skate and Play, and a grand tree-lighting ceremony.

Still, seeing Santa and spending time as a family during the holiday is what drew many to the breakfast.

Chuck and Rebecca Highbarger recently moved to the area from Hagerstown and were excited to learn that their daughters Makenzie, 9, and Kassidy, 5, could see Santa outside of a mall.

"We had seen the ad, and since we were looking for things to do during the holiday, we decided to come," Rebecca Highbarger said.

For the Highbarger family, Christmas has always been a holiday of doing rather than getting, and both Makenzie and Kassidy were excited to see Santa and the firetrucks.

Dave Wolf, who recently moved to Waynesboro from a small town in Texas, said he was excited to find Waynesboro also celebrated the holiday, much as his old town, just with what he called "much better food."

Neither Wolf nor his son Nathan, 5, could not find one thing on the menu provided by Blondie's Catering that was better than the rest.

"It was good, all of it," Nathan said.

"All? There wasn't one thing you liked best?" Wolf asked him.

"Nope. I liked all of it," Nathan said.

Yet for all the activities scheduled Saturday, Backer said she was pleased to see that this year, families were just staying and socializing.

"That says it all," she said. "Not only have they come to eat, they have come to stay and have fun."

Backer estimated that about 300 people shared in the breakfast.

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