The Tamaqua Spirit of Christmas Festival committee has announced that the 2011 Little Miss Spirit of Christmas is Madelyn Jones, 8, a third-grade student at the Tamaqua Elementary School, and the daughter of Matt and Jennifer Jones of Tamaqua.

Balloting for Little Miss Spirit of Christmas took placed Nov. 14-25 at the Wells Fargo Bank.

Eleven girls, in third through fifth grades in the Tamaqua Area School District, including St. Jerome Regional School, participated in the holiday contest.

Each girl submitted a short essay explaining "What the Spirit of Christmas Means to Me."

The essays were on display along with the girls' photographs during the two-week period of balloting.

Madelyn wrote, "Christmas is when you spend time with your family. Your family might build a snowman with you. Your family will give you presents. The End."

As Little Miss Spirit, Madelyn will participate in all the activities during the Spirit of Christmas Festival, which runs Dec. 1-4.

Each contestant will also participate in the Chamber of Commerce Santa Parade on Friday, Dec. 2, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Other participants and their essays are:

Caroline Balogach, Tamaqua Elementary: "The spirit of Christmas to me means that we are celebrating Jesus's birth. The spirit of Christmas starts in your heart and is given through love and kindness during the holiday season."

Kaitlyn Bender, Tamaqua Elementary: "What the spirit of Christmas means to me is Jesus was born on this day. He is the reason for this holiday. So it means that is a day for peace and love and spending time with my family, and sharing a dinner with all of them. I also love celebrating Jesus's Birthday by giving gifts not receiving them."

Emily Breslin, Saint Jerome Regional School: "The Spirit of Christmas is not about presents or Santa Claus. It is about celebrating Jesus' Birthday and coming together with family and friends."

Rachel Hinkle, Tamaqua Elementary: "Christmas is the time of year our family all spend time together. We eat good food and get great gifts. Happy Birthday Jesus."

Caitlin Kernick, Saint Jerome Regional School: "The spirit of Christmas means having a holiday party with my family and giving presents. I really enjoy going to the tree farm and picking out our Christmas tree."

Sierra Klinger, Tamaqua Elementary: "Christmas is about being with your family, caring, and sharing. Christmas has a special word, Christ, in it which is Jesus's birthday."

Courtney Loar, Tamaqua Elementary: "Spending time with my family. Buying and sharing gifts with them too. Also baking cookies with my dad and celebrating the birth of Jesus."

Molly Murphy, Tamaqua Elementary: Spirit of Christmas means holiness, happiness, and joy. It means holiness, because Jesus' birthday is on Christmas. It means joy, because people enjoy doing good things for others. It means happiness, because on Christmas Day families get to spend time together."

Jasmine Sadusky, Tamaqua Elementary: What the Spirit of Christmas means to me, is that it is important to help other people in need. So that everybody has a happy holiday. Merry Christmas to all."

Olivia Stettler, Saint Jerome Regional School: "What the Spirit of Christmas means to me is baking Christmas cookies, visiting your family, celebrating Jesus' birth, making memories, and having fun."

For more information on the Spirit of Christmas Festival, contact the Downtown Tamaqua Office at (570) 668-6899.