Palmerton Lights up the Night
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Bryce Baumgardt, 15 months old, of Palmerton, appears to be starstruck by the site of this nicely decorated tree on display during Palmerton's Christmas in the Park program held Saturday in the borough park.
With its colorful lights, meticulously decorated trees, and harmonious melodies, Palmerton's borough park resembled a Winter Wonderland.
There was unbridled electricity in the air on Saturday, as several hundred spectators young and old came to witness the Christmas in the Park program.
Created by the Palmerton Holiday Lighting Committee, the event featured decorated trees from members of the community, which lined the walkways of the park that were lit and decorated by the sponsor.
The program began with an invocation by the Rev. Canon Doris S. Bray, who spoke of the park's history and praised its beauty.
Vocal selections were performed by the S.S. Palmer & Towamensing Elementary student chorus, the Jr. Chimers from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and St. John Neumann Regional School students.
Santa arrived via firetruck and each child who visited with him received a goody bag, while free cookies and hot chocolate were served to those who waited in line.
The goody bags were sponsored by Country Harvest Family Market, Pencor Services, Inc., Palmerton Memorial Park Association Pool Pals, George's P&H LLC, and First Northern Bank & Trust Company.
There were also horse and wagon rides, caroling throughout the park by Living Hope Lighthouse Church, vocal selections and audience participation with the Holiday Homecoming Chorus, and Community Christmas Caroling sponsored by C.A.C.P.A.C. Vendors sold a variety of tasty treats.
Mayor Chris Olivia told the crowd the community should be proud of its "beautiful" park, and lauded the holiday lighting committee for making the event what it is. But, without question, the featured attraction was the lighting of the new lights and 48 trees, each of which were unique, and had the sponsor noted on the plaque by their tree.
As a special tribute, Oliver Solt, 100, of Bowmanstown, and Marguerite Shupp Haydt, 97, of Palmerton, gave the directive to "light up the night."
At that, each of the beautifully decorated trees lit up, eliciting plenty of oohs and aahs from the crowd.
Afterward, Susan Arner, committee member, praised Michele O'Neill, Christmas in the Park chairperson, as well as Joe and Marge Federanich, whom she said spearheaded the project. They were given a loud round of applause for their efforts.
Across the park, visitors could be seen gazing at the lit trees.
Sandy Benson of Palmerton said she was touched by the display.
"It's really kind of emotional, having the lights back around the park," Benson said. "It's really kind of nice to see them back."
Others, such as Joeleen Souders of Palmerton, agreed the event was quite the spectacle.
Souders purchased a cup of hot cocoa for her 3-year-old daughter.
"I'm really happy," Souders said. "They haven't had anything like this in the park for how many years."
Tammy Kormann, of Lehighton, who accompanied her twin daughters Erika and Kayla, 5, said she was impressed with the program.
"It's really nice," Kormann said. "They (her daughters) patiently waited their turn to meet with Santa."
Event organizers, such as O'Neill, said they were also pleased with the outcome.
"What a wonderful showing of people to come out and support Christmas in the Park," O'Neill said. "It was great to see families just enjoying the day with the children."
O'Neill said, "Older people were remembering when the lights used to be around the park, and the younger ones were picking out their favorite decorated tree. The looks on the kids faces when Santa came into town was precious."
She added, "The entertainment kept the spirit alive, while the caroling and the sing-along at the end reminded me of what Christmas is all about; our faith, family, friends and enjoying the holiday. It was an all around successful day, from the vendors, to the entertainment, to the grand finally of the lights."
O'Neill noted that she and her family walked to the park in the snow.
"It was so special to see all the lights around the park and the trees twinkle in the snow," she said. "As we turned to approach the park, my son gasped at the sight, and I knew we must have done it right."
Joe Federanich, chairman, Palmerton Holiday Lighting Committee, said the event was "quite the success."
"The participation of the entire area brought old and young friends and neighbors together for a delightful day of song and fun for all those in attendance," Federanich said. "Just as Oliver and Marguerite recalled a century of memories in our little town, new ones were made by all who helped bring the town together in song."
Federanich said he was thankful for all those who pitched in to make it such a rousing success.
"To our (chairperson) of the Christmas in Park (committee), and to all who contributed through donations, adoption of the trees, and all who came to enjoy a wonderful day, we thank you for your participation," he said. "Now that phase one is complete, let us enjoy what we have created during this special season, (and) then we will move to phase two, (which is) the lighting of Delaware Avenue."
Federanich noted that the holiday lighting committee will have various fundraisers throughout the year to "complete our mission of lighting our community to serve as an example of what can be done when we all work together."
The next meeting of the holiday lighting committee will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 8.