Christmas season is finally here! Which means decorations everywhere. This is no exception to my hometown. Every year, my town sets up thousands of decorations, and events that cheer in the holiday season. Some of my absolute favorites as a child, and even now as an adult include Light Up Night, Overly’s Country Christmas, DAR House. Every year, my family would attend and still attend these events. To find out more about these, keep reading!
Light Up Night:
This event started in 1957, has been a tradition for the last 62 years. It marks the beginning of the Christmas season, as it celebrates the grand opening of the official lighting of the town’s only life-size Nativity scene. Following the event, there is plenty of hot chocolate and cookies for the town members to share. But, it doesn’t stop there! Then, Santa Claus rides down Main Street on the oldest fire truck of the town. From there, children line up at the town’s gazebo, which is lit up with a gigantic Christmas tree, and lights sparkling the night sky. As their waiting to get their chance to meet Santa, you can hear the town’s band, blasting Christmas music in the background. Finally, as the children meet Santa, they receive a bag full of goodies, sponsored by the Catholic Youth Ministry group.
I believe this event is so dear and near to my heart is because my grandfather, Richard Kujawa, has been apart of this special traditions for years. Each year, my grandfather, takes times out of his busy schedule to set up the life-size nativity, and light up the gazebo. I could remember growing up and being so mesmerized by my grandfather’s beautiful display. Even as an adult, I am so blessed my grandfather is in great health, and has the ability to continue the tradition that keeps the reason for the season.
Overly’s Country Christmas:
If you are looking to get into the Christmas season, look no further. This tradition started in 1956, when Harry Overly first decorates his home in rural Armburst, Pennsylvania. Mr. Overly wasn’t content with a few handing strands of lights on his house and bushes. His attention to detail made the biggest difference. Mr. Overly was one of the first people to add animation to his displays. Mr. Overly covered his seven acres, displaying his lights. It first attracted neighbors and friends, and soon people from all over the region started to come. Mr. Overly and his wife would dress up as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, while other volunteers dressed up as elves. One year, as he dressed up as Santa Claus, a kind women handed him a dollar towards his marvelous display, which started the idea of collecting charitable funds. The first million dollars that had been raised was donated to the Free Care Fund at Children’s Hospital and Children’s medical services of Westmoreland Regional Hospital in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Sadly, not longer after the 1983-1984 season, Mr. Overly suffered a heart attack. In 1992, the site for the Christmas display was at Idlewild Park in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. In 1993, it was official moved to it’s permanent residency at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds in near Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Today, Overly’s Country Christmas is operated by volunteers who continue to celebrate the holiday traditions, started by Mr. Overly, and the memories to all who visit and donate towards those less fortune.
This is by far one of my favorite traditions to kick off the holiday season. Every year, my parents would take my siblings and I to Overly’s Country Christmas. There, we would see the iconic nativity scene, with live animals. We would huddle around the warm bonfire, talk to the Christmas tree, meet Santa, go to the gift shop, and get their classic hot chocolate and sugary kettle corn. Even as an adult, it doesn’t feel like Christmas until we visit this mesmerizing place!
Daughter of the American Revolution House:
Ran by the Daughter’s of the American Revolution, it’s hosted in one of the oldest mansion in my hometown. Each year, they host an open house, showcasing various themed Christmas trees donated by the town members. Individuals can then, come through, and put tickets in to win the different Christmas trees and Chinese auction items. After, looking around the grand house, they are able to get hot chocolate, punch, and various Christmas cookies in the grand dining room.
This is one of my favorite places to visit during the holidays, because not only does it showcase the Christmas season in it’s entirety, but you learn about the grand history and step back in time in Christmas. If you are looking for a place to historic, yet classic Christmas go to the DAR house for the holiday season!
After reading about all the holiday traditions in my hometown, what does your town do? Do they transform the town into a Christmas wonderland? Is their an life-size nativity scene? Whatever they may be, they are all special, and dear to own hearts. Way to often, individuals forget about the reason for the season. But, it’s these reminders that remind us, that Christmas is more than just presents. It’s about family, friends, and togetherness celebrating the reason for the season!