Tree lighting event, Santa draw crowd in Walnutport
Juliette Kochie, 3, points out her favorite tree to helpers Sarah Evert-Brida, 8, and Sarah Adams, 13, during Walnutport’s first ever Christmas tree lighting Saturday evening. KELLEY ANDRADE/TIMES NEWS
As the moon began to rise overhead on Saturday evening, Harold “Santa” Greene lit the 27 community-decorated Christmas trees in Walnutport Borough Park.
The Walnutport Recreation Board held its first community Christmas event to encourage residents to gather in the park and raise funds for future recreation projects with in the borough.
“I’m very happy for our first year,” said borough council and recreation committee member Jennifer Wentz.
“There’s a lot of people here. We already started taking sign-ups for next year’s trees,” she said.
She said the biggest challenge for the Saturday afternoon event was “figuring out what we needed and when to do it by.”
Wentz said the whole community came together for the event, from local businesses sponsoring trees to residents manning the concession stand.
“We had a lot of volunteers,” she said.
The 3-foot-tall trees ranged in motif, from residents creating decorated memorials like Ron and Hali Kuntz’s tree to the nonprofit Ladies Auxiliary of the Diamond Fire company, to local businesses including Pappas Landcare and Construction and Snap Fitness.
Favored tree of the evening was Lacko Home Improvement’s “Rudolph” tree created with burlap and antlers left over from Lacko’s in-home wreath creations.
For the volunteer fire department’s tree secured in caution tape, Assistant Chief Michael Wentz credited the firefighters’ children with the design.
“I told everyone to bring their kids and let them do it. I set a time to get everyone here and let the kids help,” he said.
Mr. Claus, played by longtime resident Greene, arrived in standard fashion with all the bells and whistles of the volunteer fire department truck.
“It was awesome, we had a great response and we will have more trees next year,” Wentz said.
The seasonal activities will continue into next weekend when the borough will host a candy cane hunt in the park.
Close to 200 hot dogs were sold for a dollar each, all donated by Thomson’s Meat Market, which also sponsored a tree.
Along with the warm dogs, s’mores in a bag were sold with all funds raised being put back into the Walnutport recreation board for future projects.
“All the money raised goes right back to the board. We are keeping it all local,” Wentz said.
Local businesses also donated hot chocolate and juice boxes for residents in attendance.
“A lot of companies came together. Everyone just gave a little bit and it helped us,” she said.
More than 30 children sat on Santa’s lap, where according to “St. Nick,” the main gifts requested were tablets and Legos.
“Harold has been such a long, strong member of the community,” Wentz said.
“He knows some of the kids here tonight. He knew one of the little girl’s name and even called her by her family nickname and she was amazed,” Wentz said.
“It’s festive and it’s community,” said the Rev. Bryan Haas of the Christ UCC Church of Walnutport.
“We are small, but there are lots of things we can do for our community,” she told the crowd during the lighting.
The decorated trees on South Lincoln Avenue will be on display until the first week of January.