By Stephen Smoot
The Christmas season started off with festive fun last Saturday. Businesses and organizations partnered together to provide children of all ages the chance to once again celebrate the holiday season.
Pendleton County Senior and Family Services opened the morning by providing a breakfast of sausage gravy, biscuits, and eggs. Attendees could also browse for gifts at the Christmas Bazaar held in the dining room and the online bidding continued for various works of art in the palette contest.
Janice Lantz, executive director of the center, explained that “we as the senior center want to be included in the community and be involved in the community.”
Jimmy Mitchell, from Grandpap’s Workshop in Franklin, offered a wide variety of handmade and decorated wood pieces. These ranged from small boxes to cutting boards and other useful items.
“It’s very important for me,” Mitchell explained. He shared that they find the wood on their property, then use their own sawmill to cut and shape what they find into products for sale.
“We started in spring doing shows and after Treasure Mountain Festival, it really picked up,” Mitchell said, then added, “I’ve been doing it ever since I was in high school.”
The Pendleton County Library also served as a morning stop. It offered hot chocolate and other goodies for people of all ages stopping by to make Christmas ornaments to be put on the town tree later in the day.
In the middle of the room, a church group doing a residency in Smoke Hole was busy crafting their creations. Four of the group, all college students from Pennsylvania, were busy making ornaments and enjoying the day. They came from One Life Institute, an organization that brings young people from around the country to do a residency at Lodestar Mountain Inn in Smoke Hole.
The group works to support various community projects. As Maggie Bauer from Lancaster stated, “We went to Treasure Mountain Festival. We’ve done prayer walks in the Town of Franklin and love all the shops.” She added that they also volunteer at the library.
Rebekah Lowenthal, from East Stroudsburg, shared that “I really like this close knit community.” Cailey Kimble, also of Lancaster, praised the town, saying, “It’s so gorgeous and the people are so nice,” then described her love of the food and fun at the Potomac Highlands Recreation Center.
Jared and Katie VanMeter also opened up the historic McCoy House to visitors as part of an open house celebration. They created a space where kids could make ornaments while watching “The Polar Express.” They also invited visitors to tour the house and enjoy hot chocolate, cookies, and more.
Jared VanMeter stated that “our goal is to give back to the community.” He also expressed that their priority lay in protecting and preserving the house, saying, “It’s a treasure to the community.”
“This place gets me so excited,” Katie VanMeter shared. She also said that “I want this to be a good experience.”
The VanMeters have done extensive work in restoring the McCoy House, which has a history that includes and also predates the Civil War. They plan to make the house a part of every town celebration.
Later in the afternoon, Santa and Mrs. Claus rode in the parade and greeted children. The town Christmas tree was also dedicated and lighted to the delight of all in attendance.
Much of the organization and other work was performed by the Pendleton County Chamber of Commerce.