Highlights of Christmas in Our Hometown on Dec. 1 included the lighting of the town Christmas tree by Mr. and Mrs Claus (top) with accompaniment by the Tunkhannock High School Marching Band. The Clauses arrived in a horse-drawn wagon (above), much to the delight of scores of children awaiting them.
Photos and Story by Rick Hiduk
Tunkhannock’s Christmas in Our Hometown bounced back in style from a couple of rainy years with thousands of residents and guests roaming the streets of the Wyoming County seat. Activities included the annual tree-lighting ceremony, free entertainment, treats from local businesses and nonprofit groups, and visiting downtown shops and eateries. The event is sponsored by the Tunkhannock Business and Professionals Association (TBPA), but many other entities have developed separate traditions that parallel the official celebration.
Skies were uncharacteristically bright when the Tunkhannock High School Marching Band (above) led the procession of Santa and Mrs. Claus and their friends down Tioga Street in a horse-drawn wagon n Friday night. The Clauses disembarked at the town Christmas tree in the lawn of Peoples Security Bank, where they were greeted by Chris Langlois and Kelly Byrne of WBRE/WYOU and TBPA President Nancy Parlo.
When asked by Langlois why the Clauses always come to Tunkhannock for Christmas in Our Hometown, Santa insisted that Tunkhannock is their favorite town in the whole world. Shortly after that revelation, Mrs. Claus threw the switch to light the 30-foot spruce as the student band struck up a rousing rendition of “O, Christmas Tree.” Nearby, youths from Whipples Dance Studio thrilled an audience gathered outside a window of Greenwood Furniture with a variety of dance routines.
Across the street at the Dietrich Theater, family members of all ages marveled at the lavish decorations adorning the lobby while waiting for a free screening of “Emmit Otter’s Jugband Christmas” or lining up to participate in the popular cookie walk, an opportunity to fill a box with any homemade cookie that caught their fancy.
The theater, of course, was not the only venue bursting at the seems with holiday spirit. Ebb’s Candy Jar and Nursery drew people down Bridge street to see their ever-growing display of full-size holiday movie characters like the Grinch, the Peanuts gang, Rudolph and pals, and Elsa and her friends from the movie Frozen.
Across the way at Bridge Street Antiques, the crowd grew steadily around an ice carver rendering a bust of Santa. The real Santa and Mrs. Claus were still busy on Tioga Street, where they posed for photos and visited the many businesses that stayed open late for the event. The Bridgewater Baptist Church praise and worship band rocked out Christmas carols from a flatbed truck.
As Parlo told the television reporters, Tunkhannock is a unique town of Mom and Pop shops, and Christmas in Our Hometown is indicative of a holiday spirit that so many people strive to keep alive each year. On Dec. 1, it seemed that everyone had gone out of their way to make up for less-than-hoped-for turnouts resulting from poor weather during the previous two years. The collective hours and level of creative talents that went into the many window displays was immeasurable.
Christmas in Our Hometown continued on Saturday with a full schedule of activities planned at the Dietrich Theater, as well as a return of Santa and Mrs. Claus set for 5 pm Saturday evening to relight the tree and set the tone for the rest of the holiday season in the Tunkhannock.
Crowds fill Tioga Street, which was blocked to vehicular traffic for the entire evening.
Checking out the display by the Endless Mountains Model Railroad Club inside Robinsons Martial Arts studio were Terry White (above) from Auburn Township with Wonston and Tucker White.
Representing the Wyoming County Community Fair were court royalty members (from left) Alexandria Glausch, Asha Kyttle, and Paige Zona.
Among the businesses providing snacks and novelties for ‘Hometown’ guests were Pro Rehab on Tioga Street, represented by (from left, Chris Empett, Mary Jane Arnold, Jeff Cywinski, and Bobbie Jo Layaou.
Young People in Recovery was represented by (from left) Ryan and Corey Taylor, Christopher Compton and Katrina and John Fabiseski.
Dolling out hot chocolate on behalf of Taylor Rental were Phil McKeon (left) and Annemarie Kelley.
The United Way of Wyoming County was soliciting participants for their upcoming Reindeer Run. Recruiters included (from left) Mike and Benaiah Dickinson, Kristin Huff, and Rachel Ziegler.
More crowd shots, window displays and other Opening Night highlights: