BY TOM LAVIS
People looking to rekindle the charm of a Victorian Christmas will have an opportunity to step back in time as Ebensburg Borough celebrates its seventh annual “Dickens of a Christmas.”
The family-friendly event will be held Friday through Sunday throughout the borough.
Organizers will transform Ebensburg into a Christmas wonderland with activities that include sleigh and carriage rides, Victorian teas, three craft shows, roving entertainers and carolers, holiday concerts and neighborhood wassailing.
The Victorian event encompasses the true spirit of Christmas.
Events begin Friday with special activities at the Cambria County Courthouse.
County employees will decorate the row offices in the theme of a Dickens village, and the courthouse will remain open all weekend for visitors to enjoy.
Lou Bartoletti, a former borough councilman for 21 years, will be this year’s grand marshal for the seventh edition of “Dickens of a Christmas.”
Bartoletti is a World War II Navy veteran and was serving in Normandy on D-Day. He worked in the Central Cambria School District since 1950, retiring in 1985 as a teacher, coach, principal and curriculum supervisor.
He will flip the switch during light-up night at 6 Friday in Kimball Park and ride in the annual Christmas parade the next day.
The evening continues with a Victorian fashion show and tea at 7:30 at First United Church of Christ educational building, 217 E. High St.
In conjunction with the Dickens weekend, Cresson Lake Playhouse will present “Forever Plaid – Plaid Tidings” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 2 on Saturday and Sunday at the courthouse, 200 S. Center St.
The show offers new songs along with the best of “Forever Plaid.” It is filled with Christmas standards that have to be “plaiderized” by the boys who are back to do their Christmas special. At first, they aren’t sure why they have returned, but a phone call from the heavenly Rosemary Clooney let them know that they’re needed to put a little harmony into an off-key world.
Borough Manager Dan Penatzer encourages visitors to come to Ebensburg to see an outstanding display of Christmas decorations.
“If you haven’t seen downtown Ebensburg at Christmas, you need to,” Penatzer said.
“Families will enjoy walking through downtown streets looking at decorated windows and extensive decorations in three parks.”
The parade begins at the former middle school, proceeds along North Center Street, turns right onto West High Street and finally north onto Julian Street.
The parade will include holiday floats, local civic organizations and churches, fire equipment, dancers, marching bands and more.
“The best vantage point to see the parade is in the center of town,” said Shawna Drop, community development director.
“That’s where there will be an announcer, and bands and dancers stop there to perform.”
A display of large, lighted characters depicting the "12 Days of Christmas” in Veterans Park is a children’s favorite.
Fire baskets will be ablaze to add warmth and charm at Penn Eben Park and Kimball Park.
Along with the parade, ice sculptures and craft shows on Saturday, other activities will include tours of the former county prison, sleigh and carriage rides through town, children’s activities and more.
Businesses also will decorate their storefronts and offer special Victorian menus.
Drop said visitors will find new things.
“We try to change the events a bit each year, and for this year, we have added several new events,” Drop said.
New to this year’s celebration will be Christmas Trees for a Cause, an old-fashioned sale of select Christmas trees from a parking lot.
Proceeds will benefit the Ebensburg Free Public Library.
“The parking lot will be lit with overhead strings of colored lights,” he said.
The Puppen Meister Marionettes will present “Country Christmas” at the Young Peoples Community Center at various times during the weekend.
“Participating merchants will have printed material listing all the activities and performances throughout the weekend,” Drop said.
“We have something for everyone. Moms can shop, dads can eat and children have a wide range of things to do to keep them occupied.”
Penatzer called it a great family event.
“I don’t know of a better way to get everyone into the Christmas spirit,” he said.
Information: 472-8780 or on the Internet at www.ebensburgdickens.com.
What: Seventh annual “Dickens of a Christmas.”
When: Friday through Sunday.
Where: Ebensburg Borough.
Information: www.ebensburgdickens. com.
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