Photos and story by Rick Hiduk
(Also published in Holiday Living)
‘Christmas in Our Hometown’ has a solid track record in that the two-day, family-friendly event conducted by the Tunkhannock Business & Professional Association (TBPA) has become a tradition in its own rite. Thousands of residents and visitors from miles around make the trip to the Wyoming County seat to sip cider, eat cookies, enjoy live entertainment and stroll the quaint downtown streets.
This Friday and Saturday evenings, Dec. 6 and 7, several blocks of Tioga Street, one of the best-preserved historic districts in Pennsylvania, will be closed to all but pedestrian traffic and a horse-drawn wagon. That wagon brings Santa and Mrs. Claus to town before carrying families through streets lined with century-old structures and vendors of all sorts.
Music fills the town, which is decorated to the hilt. Shops compete with window displays that captivate guests. The large windows of one furniture store are the focal point of live performances by locally trained dancers. Antiques shops, a growing number of specialty boutiques and eateries stay open late with exhibits and holiday treats for patrons.
“Tunkhannock is a unique town of Mom and Pop shops, and Christmas in Our Hometown is indicative of the holiday spirit that so many people strive to keep alive each year,” said TBPA president Nancy Parlo, who greets the Clauses both nights for the ceremonial lighting of the town Christmas tree at 5 pm. “This is one of most exciting moments of the weekend for children of all ages,” Parlo related. “It still gives me goosebumps.”
From there, residents and visitors fan out through the town to enjoy free candy, warm beverages and other goodies. The talents of area artisans are on display from one end of the event’s staging area to the other. Live musicians, a chainsaw ice carver, and strolling carolers round out the enchanting mix. A candy shop on Bridge Street broadens its holiday repertoire every year with a display of life-size characters from iconic holiday movies and TV shows.
Those looking for a souvenir of their Hometown experience will find plenty to buy, and the Dietrich Theater in the Wyoming County Cultural Center provides an opportunity to fill containers with homemade cookies at a reasonable cost. The Dietrich, literally and figuratively a hub for the celebration, conducts its popular “Cookie Walk” on Friday night and on Saturday from 11 am until all of the cookies are gone.
Guests can enjoy the theater’s lobby decorations displays throughout the holiday season. “The galleries are a winter wonderland put together by Dietrich volunteers,” said Cultural Center executive director Rogler. “It is a sight to behold. They wow us every year.” There are also special programs throughout the weekend with details posted at www.dietrichtheater.com. Interested readers will find information about additional activities scattered throughout Tunkhannock on Saturday at www.tunkhannockbusiness.com.
Christmas in Our Hometown has made Tunkhannock a holiday destination, with families finding their way back to town and others staying in local hotels and bed and breakfasts.
“Many residents who have moved away make a point of returning for the festivities,” Parlo remarked. “Christmas in Our Hometown is a wonderful opportunity for the entire Tunkhannock Community.”