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A very merry day in downtown Lititz Fire company takes Santa and Mrs. Claus on parade
By: JANET SCOUTEN Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
Last Saturday in downtown Lititz, children ages 10 and under got an early taste of Christmas. Carrying goody bags to be filled by generous shopkeepers, kids popped in and out of local stores, pausing only to wave at Santa and Mrs. Claus joyriding up and down Main Street on a fire engine.
"Have Yourself a Merry Lititz Christmas," now in its fourth year, featured activities for children all around the downtown area, including a scavenger hunt, carriage rides, a marshmallow roast, funnel cakes, games, giveaways, entertainment, visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and more.
Organized with great care by a close friend of Mrs. Claus, Kathy Blankenbiller, this free annual event allowed all area children, regardless of income, to celebrate the season.
"The holidays are really about children," said Blankenbiller. "No child is turned away from having fun because they can’t pay to play. Everything is free for kids ages 10 and under. For some of these kids, what they receive at this event IS their Christmas."
As the Lititz Moravian Trombone Choir provided a holiday soundtrack to the day, downtown merchants passed out treats that ranged from candy canes at Antiques & Stuff to tabletop fountains at Think Silk, and everything in between.
Twin Brook Winery on Main Street shared free magic reindeer food for children to scatter across their lawns on Christmas Eve for Rudolph and his friends. (Grownups who accompanied them received a coupon for 20 percent off their next wine purchase.)
At Morton Fine Furniture, owner and craftsman Thomas Morton shared pinecones from his Norway Spruce, encouraging children to either fill them with peanut butter and birdseed for wintering birds or plant a tree from the spruce seeds they shake from the cone.
"I’m big on conservation," said Morton. "If even one tree is planted from the pine cones I give out today, I’ll be just thrilled."
In addition to the downtown scavenger hunt, kids enjoyed numerous other holiday treats and activities.
On the patio outside the General Sutter Inn, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas as two small bonfires produced flecks of gray ashes that floated in the air like makeshift snowflakes.
As in years past, Boy Scouts young and old from Troop 142 oversaw free marshmallow roasting as they dispensed rich hot cocoa provided by the Sutter.
Eagle Scout Nick Armstrong has been volunteering at the marshmallow roast for the past four to five years. A sophomore this year, Nick maintains that the marshmallow fires have never gotten out of control under the watchful eye of the scouts and their leaders.
"The marshmallow roast is such a fun opportunity for the scouts to be involved with the community," added Assistant Scoutmaster William Armstrong.
He explained that during activities like their recent food drive, the scouts know they’re doing an important good deed. But the simple act of passing out marshmallows provides a moment of instant gratification as they make members of the community smile.
Midway up Main Street, a second group of local Scouts, Troop 44, was also making people smile with a colorful sign that read "Free Funnel Cakes."
Using not much more than an iron skillet, vegetable oil, propane tanks and vast quantities of batter, Funnel Cake King Steve Kutcher has been overseeing this operation since the early 1990s when his 25-year-old son Steven was in Scouts.
"It’s all in the wrist," joked the elder Kutcher.
With powdered sugar flying to create another White Christmas moment, funnel cake eaters dug into their treats, dusting sugar from their jackets and faces.
Over at Lititz Elementary, the indoor location for even more Christmas fun, 6-year-old Maddie Moline of Lititz and her mother Katie were pleasantly surprised by the free book giveaway sponsored by Lititz Area Kiwanis.
In the school cafeteria, entries from the annual gingerbread house contest, sponsored for a second year by Main Street’s Candy*ology, were on display for passersby to admire and vote for their favorites.
With several categories of winners, the first-place adult prize went to Janet Deery for her impressive two-story gingerbread house, decorated with a rock candy chimney and licorice roof shingles.
Children from the Englehart family took home prizes this year for their entries in the children’s division, and students from the MDS class at Warwick Middle School took first in the group category.
"Kids have been so creative and their imaginations were running wild," said Candy*ology owner Rita Garson.
Looking ahead to next year, Garson hints at a possible new category in the contest that might allow non-gingerbread building materials into the competition.
Also featured at Lititz Elementary were balloon animals, free snacks and bottled water, Bingo, craft tables, a coloring station, and a fishing game. In addition, children had the opportunity to meet local firemen, take home souvenir photos from GeorJean Photography’s photo booth, and jump around in a bouncy house.
Finally, from noon until 2:30 p.m., the jingle-jingle sound of horse-drawn wagons could be heard up and down Main Street as families enjoyed free rides sponsored by the Lititz VFW and Lititz American Legion.
Thanks to an impressive list of donors, sponsors and volunteers, Kathy Blankenbiller’s dream of another Merry Lititz Christmas came true for local children. And through the proceeds of her recently self-published cookbook, "Bake Someone Happy," she hopes to celebrate the event again for years to come.
The 136-page book contains 344 recipes, most of which are local specialties and favorites submitted by members of the community. The book can be purchased in person at Aaron’s Books, 35 E. Main. St., or online by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting cookbooks4sale.com. Orders can be made by mail to: Kathy Blankenbiller, P.O. Box 707, Lititz, PA, 17534.
The cost of the cookbook is $12.50, with an additional $3 shipping cost added to those orders that require shipping. More MERRY LITITZ, page A16