ATV rider

The ATV/side-by-side decorating contest, which will be a part of Santa’s Parade in “Light Up the Night” in downtown St. Marys, will promote trail riding and natural resources in Elk County.

ST. MARYS — ATV and side-by-side riders are encouraged to deck their units out in festive holiday décor, then travel to downtown St. Marys for “Light Up the Night” festivities.

Participating riders will be part of the Santa Parade on Friday, Nov. 16, at 6:30 p.m., and prizes will be awarded to the “best decorated units.”

This is the first year for the ATV decorating contest, sponsored by the Elk County Riders On & Off Road Recreation Club, said Treasurer Cheryl Ruffner. They hope to see it become an annual part of Light Up the Night, a town-wide celebration of the holidays.

Ruffner is part of a “concerned group of citizens” who want to showcase the Elk County area through supporting on-and-off-road recreation in designated areas, and promoting natural resources, she said.

“One of the things that’s very popular right now is trail riding,” Ruffner said. “We thought, ‘What can we do to get people to see what we have here?’”

So, they approached the Elk County Riders group, which is based in Kersey, about this idea. The ECR club aims to do just that, too — use on-and-off road recreation to show people the beauty of where they’re from, Ruffner said.

“We envision opening up trails here, and promoting ATV/side-by-side trails in Elk County,” Ruffner said.

The club also hosted an on-road scavenger hunt this fall, Ruffner said, which was very successful. Plans are being made to hopefully have races and promote motor cross at an Elk County track, too.

“ATV riders don’t always have the best reputation, (but) this is our way of saying we want to be a part of the community,” Ruffner says.

By January, they hope to start presenting the group’s “focus,” and have PennDOT on board in opening a few roads, Ruffner says.

“We want an ATV, recreation economy here,” she said. “We have tourism and great outdoors. We want to showcase the natural resources — that’s the whole focus of what this is all about, bringing people here and promoting the community.”

Even if people don’t own an ATV or other recreational unit, they’re encouraged to just come and be supportive and enjoy the celebration, Ruffner says.

“We encourage people to come and look at the decorated units — you don’t necessarily have to have a unit to be a part of our group,” he said.

Riders will assemble in the spare lot on Depot Street at 5:30 p.m., prior to the parade, then follow Santa in the parade to Farmers National Bank. Units will be judged by St Marys Area Chamber of Commerce judges outside of the Chamber’s office following the parade.

At 8 p.m., all units and riders will be police-escorted back to the loading area, according to the Chamber’s event description.

For more information, call Don at 814-594-5053 or Chris at 814-335-1927.

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