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Celebrating an Olde Tyme Christmas in Harpers Ferry as it was after the Civil War

December 10, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • The Rolling Coyotes - Elliott Simon on piano, Steve Warner on guitar and Andy Moshden on cello and bass - perform holiday music Saturday at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., during the town's annual Olde Tyme Christmas celebration.
By Richard F. Belisle/Staff Writer

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — Philip and Laura Denny and their three children were having a great time Saturday afternoon taking in the festivities of Olde Tyme Christmas.

"We usually come to Harpers Ferry in the summer, but this year we saw Olde Tyme Christmas online, so we decided to drive over," said Laura Denny, whose family is from Canfield, Ohio.

The family was approaching the steps to St. Peter's Catholic Church when they saw Santa Claus.

Affable Paul Ashbaugh, dressed as the jolly old elf, spotted the Denny kids about the same time they saw him.

Greetings were exchanged and the trio — Julia, 6, Leah, 3 and Nathanael, 2 — jumped into the stooping Santa's arms for a quick photo op.

In White Hall Tavern, Melinda Day, a Harpers Ferry National Historical Park interpreter, was explaining how the village celebrated Christmas in 1864, the last full year of the Civil War.

She was surrounded at her small table by youngsters intent on helping her make icicle ornaments from strips of metal. Tyler Thomas, 10, of Harpers Ferry, seemed to be delighted in his newly learned skill.

The Rolling Coyotes — Elliott Simon on keyboard, Steve Warner on guitar and Andy Mosholden on cello and bass, performed holiday music at St. Peter's.

Volunteers were serving soup in the hall behind the church.

Paul Bossen and Joy Krupka of Middletown, Del., were enjoying steaming bowls of chicken noodle soup.

"I love history and this location," said Bossen, a regular Harpers Ferry visitor. It was Krupka's first time in the village and park.

"It's been great so far," he said.

Olde Tyme Chrismas is a joint venture of the local merchants and the park service. Last weekend, the focus was the park's historical features. This weekend, it's on the town as a holiday shopping venue.

David Archer, a sales clerk at Harpers Ferry Outfitters and General Store, said business was "bustling" Saturday afternoon.

"Everyone's in good spirits and they're buying," he said. "There are many unusual gifts in Harpers Ferry."

One of the hardest working guys Saturday afternoon was Buzz, a 13-year-old chestnut hackney horse. Every half hour, from noon to 4:30 p.m., he pulled wagon loads of tourists on a mile-long circuit around the lower town. Reservations for the free ride were gone by noon. Buzz and his wagon return Sunday.

There was a living nativity scene at St. Peters at 6 p.m. It also returns Sunday.

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