RIDGWAY — The 2019 holiday season kicked off in Ridgway throughout the weekend, offering Light Up Night with Santa Claus, Small Business Saturday and several other activities.
The Yuletide Memories Winter Festival began Friday with Santa arriving at the gazebo by fire truck, kicking off “Light Up Night.”
Shop Small Saturday offered several downtown sales and specials for shoppers, as well as activities for families, such as gingerbread-house making at Katering by Kate’s shop on South Mill Avenue.
Ridgway YMCA also hosted a “Deck Your House” gingerbread competition.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church offered a Christmas village and train scenes benefiting “Neighbors Feeding Neighbors.” St. Leo School also hosted its annual soup and bake sale, and offered a visit from Santa Claus Saturday.
The Ridgway-Elk Chamber of Commerce hosted “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” reading sessions at Paesano Pizza II, and there was even a surprise visit from the Grinch, Ridgway Main Street Program Manager Beth Shuttleworth said.
Horse-and-carriage rides offered tours of the town, too.
Light Up Night was a great success, said Shuttleworth, attracting more than 150 children. Hot cocoa provided by Elk County Foods was also a hit.
PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Home for the Holidays Parade kicked off the holiday season in Punxsutawney with a bang Saturday evening.
The parade was immediately followed by fireworks lighting up the sky over town, so even those who didn’t attend the parade knew the holidays had officially begun. The fireworks display was sponsored by the Punxsutawney Eagles Club.
All of the parade units were festively decorated, and many had costumed characters aboard. Among those in the parade were elves, a snowman, and even The Grinch who rode through on a float for Snacks to Grow On.
Families lined the street as children waited for floats with people handing out candy or other treats. One float handed out some light-up wands to the children as they walked past, which had many children excited as they saw them coming down the street.
Four-legged friends walked in the parade too, including dogs, and even a horse pulling a small sleigh.
Following the parade, many people moved to Barclay Square to participate in the lighting of the community tree with the Rotary Club. After the fireworks display finished, a countdown was started for the tree lighting. The community tree is also surrounded by all the trees for the Rotary’s Circle of Trees.
After all the time spent out in the cold, Santa Claus was waiting at the Eagles Club to enjoy cookies and milk with the children. The parade winners were also announced during the after parade party, which was sponsored by the Eagle’s Ladies Auxiliary.
The parade was broken into categories for best walking unit, vehicle, float, performer, and fire truck. The following were the winning units of the Home for the Holidays Parade
PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsutawney Rotary Club has hosted its Circle of Trees event for 14 years.
Groups participating in the Circle of Trees must be non-profit. The Rotary Club provides the trees for them to decorate, and a stipend for decorations. If the group can buy or make their decorations with the money provided, the decorated tree will cost the group nothing.
Monetary prizes are awarded to the groups who place for having the best decorated tree. Not only can they help decorate the community at no cost, the organization might benefit financially.
“It’s just a way for Rotary to have some fun and give back to some local organizations,” said Rotary President Jodi Presloid.
There are about 15 trees in the Circle of Trees each year. The categories for awards are broken into youth organizations and adult organizations. This year five youth organizations and 10 adult organizations participated.
This year’s theme was Christmas in the City. The Rotary used a list of the top 15 cities around the world, and each group chose a city from the list. No cities were duplicated, so each group had a unique city to capture with their tree. Some of the cities featured were Paris, Las Vegas, and New Orleans.
A third party group judges the trees, and the names of the organizations are not displayed until after the trees have been judged. The name of the city the tree is meant to represent is used as a tree topper for each tree.
“You can’t fully appreciate it until they’re all lit up,” Presloid said.
Winners this year were:
In the youth category, the Punxsutawney High School Art Club in third place with Los Angeles; Cub Scout Troop 247 in second with San Francisco; and Punxsutawney High School Key Club in first with Paris.
The winners in the adult category were Make a Wish Foundation in third place with New Orleans; Punxsutawney PRIDE in second place with Las Vegas; and the Punxsutawney Garden Club in first place with Pittsburgh.
The trees will remain on display in Barclay Square throughout the holiday season.