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Charlie Brown trees light up Springfield Barn

December 13, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

WILLIAMSPORT -- Dozens of people streamed into the historic Springfield Barn Sunday evening in Williamsport for a new Christmas celebration that exceeded the expectations of organizers and spectators.

Williamsport Town Council member Joan Knode came up with the idea of collecting unwanted artificial Christmas trees for a celebration.

On Sunday night, dozens of those trees stood decorated on the floor of the barn for the town's first Charlie Brown Christmas.

The only lights in the cavernous barn were those on the trees and strands of tiny white lights looped along beams inside the building.

People walked around and observed the trees, their faces illuminated by colored lights.

Carolers sang and members of a Springfield Middle School choral group performed on a stage.

Spectators were surprised by the display when they stepped inside.

"It exceeded my expectations," said Dick Eversole of Hagerstown, who grew up in Williamsport and came to the event with his daughter.

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"I think Joan (Knode) deserves a round of applause," said Kathe Dell of Williamsport.

Dell said she has lived in Williamsport since 1976, and compared to other Christmas celebrations in town, "this tops them all."

Organizations like schools were invited to decorate the trees, said Mayor James G. McCleaf II.

It took about two weeks to set up the display, said Williamsport Town Council member Tearza Knode, another organizer and Joan Knode's daughter-in-law.

"Merry Christmas from Keara and Bryan Lewis, and Fountain Rock Elementary," read a sign on one of the trees. The tree was trimmed in red and white ribbons, and in the middle was a giant red ornament that was open on one side.

Inside the ornament was a miniature scene with a train going around a track.

Another tree was bursting with red.

The tree, from the Red Hat Society of Williamsport, had dozens of small red felt hats hanging from it, as well as red lights and red beads.

"I think it's great. It's nice to see the bar being used this time of year. Very festive," said Lisa Dittman as she walked around the trees.

The only thing noticeably missing was some heat.

McCleaf pointed to where work has started to insulate the barn and he said that perhaps some heat can be added to the barn next year.

"I think it goes with the occasion," McCleaf said of the chilly temperature.

The barn, next to Byron Memorial Park, was built in 1755 by Otho Holland Williams, the founder of Williamsport. Now that a sprinkler system has been installed there, the town can have large events in the building, Tearza Knode said.

The town's goal is to utilize the barn in some way every season and beginning in January, a barn-use committee will begin studying ways to use the building, said Tearza Knode said.

"We're going to have tons of events," said McCleaf, who said there are plans to allow the barn to be leased for events.

Sunday's celebration was expected to run until 8 p.m. and a brochure said other offerings included wagon rides, a bonfire beside the barn and pictures with Santa Claus.

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