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December 8, 2013

'Dickens of a Christmas' festival draws crowd to park

EBENSBURG — Sleigh rides, traditional crafts, period costumes and an old-fashioned puppet show helped whisk Dickens of a Christmas visitors back in time Saturday for the Ebensburg community’s holiday celebration.

“We try to make it every year,” Dori Stiffler of Mundys Corner said while watching her children play around ice sculptures near the gazebo at West High and North Julian streets.

This year, the Dickens trip was special because granddaughter Baylee Knapp had helped decorate a tree entered by Jackson Elementary School for the Christmas Trees With a Cause display in Penn Eben Park.

The Dickens events draw visitors from a large area, with many returning home to Ebensburg for the celebration. Coordinator Erin Au said the Santa Run’s advance registration of more than 100 people illustrates the festival’s popularity.

“We have people registered from Northern Cambria, from Johnstown, from Indiana, from all over,” Au said. “We think it brings more people to the area.”

The 2.5-mile Jingle Run and related Candy Cane Fun Run were expected to feature about 200 participants of all ages, including last-minute registrations, Au said, explaining that the run is a major fundraiser for the Young People’s Community Center Sparklers competitive cheerleading program.

“We promote family fitness,” Au said. “We encourage families to join and run together.”

Ebensburg’s Victorian architecture and rich history inspired the community festival, which includes a variety of events throughout the borough.

Wildlife artist Dave Krupa of Mundys Corner got into the spirit with a top hat and 19th century outfit. He was a vendor at one of several craft shows featured this weekend.

“We like to support the local stuff,” Krupa said, explaining he features his work at several larger shows in other areas.

“There are some really skilled people doing some wonderful work here,” he said. “It makes you proud knowing there are people keeping the old arts alive.”

Dickens of a Christmas continues today with a full slate of events, highlighted with a holiday home tour from 1 to 4 p.m. There are also ice sculptures downtown, a gingerbread contest at the Cambria County Historical Society and children’s activities at the Young People’s Community Center.

Randy Griffith is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

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