The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Columnists

November 28, 2013

Ebensburg offers Dickens of a good holiday time

EBENSBURG — Borough officials are “thinking Christmas” early as they plan the county seat’s eighth annual Dickens of a Christmas event.

The Victorian-style celebration will take place Dec. 6-8 in various locations throughout the community and will capitalize on Ebensburg’s historic homes and old-fashioned decor.

“This Victorian event encompasses the true spirit of Christmas and takes you back in time to experience an old-fashioned holiday,” said Danea Koss, Ebensburg’s community development director.

Events begin Dec. 6 with special activities at the Cambria County Courthouse during the day.

County employees will decorate the row offices in the theme of a Victorian-era Christmas carol, and the courthouse will remain open all weekend for visitors.

There will be a light-up ceremony in the evening followed by a Cresson Lake Playhouse performance of “A Cresson Lake Christmas,” a Victorian strings concert at the historic Noon-Collins Inn and a Hat Fashion Show & Tea with The Hat Ladies of Johnstown.

“All of our events are a great tuneup to get people excited about Christmas,” Koss said.

Borough Manager Dan Penatzer encourages visitors to come to Ebensburg to see an outstanding display of Christmas decorations.

“Families will enjoy walking through downtown streets looking at decorated windows and extensive decorations in three parks,” Penatzer said.

Unlike PotatoFest, where thousands jam the streets of Ebensburg, the Dickens event is more low-key.

“Dickens offers a relaxed family atmosphere that can be found all across Ebensburg,” Penatzer said. ”From things such as plays, concerts and craft fairs, it’s an event that families can share and enjoy together.”

A display of large lighted characters depicting the Twelve Days of Christmas in Veterans Park is a children’s favorite.

Burning cresset fire baskets will be set afire and glow again in Penn Eben Park and Kimball Park.

Retired Ebensburg lawyer Fremont J. McKenrick will be this year’s grand marshal for this year’s festivities. Before retiring in 2009, he spent 57 years as an attorney.

McKenrick will lead courthouse employees in song during the courthouse tree lighting and wassailing at noon Friday. He will do the honors of flipping the switch at light-up night in Kimball Park at 6 p.m. and will ride in the annual Christmas parade on Saturday.

Lineup for the parade is at 10, and participants will step off at 11.

Also on Saturday, the festival will feature three craft shows and ice sculptures. Other activities include tours of the former county prison, sleigh and carriage rides through town, Victorian teas and children’s activities.

“All the children’s activities are being held at the Young Peoples Community Center and will feature things like crafts, coloring and Christmas movies,” Koss said.

The YPCC also will be the site of  a Drop-N-Shop that allows young children to be entertained while parents go shopping.

Cresson Lake Playhouse’s holiday production of “A Cresson Lake Christmas” will be a part of the Dickens celebration, with three shows over the weekend at the courthouse. Other productions during the weekend include the Christmas cantata at First United Church of Christ.

“It is truly something special to see our local businesses, community groups and residents come together to celebrate the spirit of Christmas,” Koss said.

Back by popular demand, the Puppen Meister Marionettes will present their “Country Christmas” at various times during the Holiday Jamboree at the YPCC.

Christmas Trees for a Cause also will return with an old-fashioned sale of Christmas trees from a parking lot lit with overhead colored lights. Proceeds will benefit the Ebensburg Cambria Library.

The YPCC Sparklers second annual Jingle 4K and Candy Cane Fun Run are scheduled to begin in Penn Eben Park at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Dickens of a Christmas will close on Sunday afternoon with a returning favorite, a self-guided Holiday Home Tour of several beautifully decorated historic properties in downtown Ebensburg.

“We have four homes and two businesses on the tour,” Koss said. “It’s up to the owners how they decorate, but I’m confident several will decorate in the Victorian tradition.”

Home tour tickets can be purchased at the borough office for $15 a person.

“(Dickens of a Christmas has) become a great family event, and I don’t know of a better way to get everyone into the Christmas spirit,” Penatzer said. “People will know it is Christmas when they leave here.”

A complete schedule of events can be found at or by calling (814) 472-8780.

Victorian treat

What: Eighth annual Dickens of a Christmas.

When: Dec. 6-8.

Where: Ebensburg.


Tom Lavis covers Features for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on LavisTD.


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