Crowd gathers to greet Santa, see decorated trees in downtown Shamokin
SHAMOKIN - Dave Koyack, his wife, Kay, and stepson, D.J., traveled 210 miles from Oil City Saturday to enjoy three favorite traditions in Shamokin.
"We come to see the Downtown Christmas, then visit the Fun Shop and then have Coney Island food and see the tree there," Kay Koyack said.
The Koyacks were among hundreds who poured onto Independence Street for the sixth annual Downtown Christmas, presented by the Northumberland County Council for the Arts and Humanities (NCCAH).
With more than 20 vendors, decorated trees and a holiday mood, downtown sidewalks were bustling as young and old waited for Santa.
Led by the Shamokin Area High School Band and cheerleaders, along with several floats, and with the sounds of fire engines behind him, Santa, Mrs. Claus and an elf arrived in the Rotary Sleigh with smiles and waves for everyone.
"It's a very pleasant afternoon when I can come to Shamokin and see all the boys and girls," Santa said. "It's a happy time and the children have been very good."
Santa said he was even experiencing a heat wave in the 35-degree temperature for the 1 p.m. parade.
"It certainly is warmer here than it is at the North Pole," Santa said.
Once the parade was over, many headed inside the Masonic Building at Eighth and Independence streets, also home to the Fun Shop, to warm up and see 15 decorated trees.
Donated by TLC Tree Farms in Hegins and decorated by local individuals and businesses, each tree had a different theme. One had ornaments that looked like tasty treats and another was covered in Santa ornaments.
For 25 cents a vote, visitors weighed in on their favorite trees. The tree voting raised more than $350 for NCCAH to help restore the Kallaway Center for the Arts. Winners in the voting were first place, Joshua V. Bressi Photography, and second place, VNA Health Systems.
As for the trees, they are presented, ornaments and all, to needy local families after the event.
Dave Koyack, originally from Shamokin, and his family were amazed as to how nicely all the trees were decorated.
"This is our second year coming to the event and its wonderful to see what they have done with it," Koyack said.
A Shamokin family, the Kopitskies, also came together Saturday - to help entertain at Downtown Christmas by singing carols in Victorian costumes.
Three generations of the family, grandfather David Kopitsky Sr., mom and dad Suzy and David Jr. and granddaughter Olivia, participated.
"We love being part of the event," dad David Jr. said. "There are not enough people to get involved in events like this that bring a community together."
Kopitsky not only loves helping the arts council, he uses it as a teaching tool for his young daughter.
"I like to show her the fun you can have and the good it does to help bring a community together and what good can come from it," he said.
Outside the Masonic Building, Tammy Tweed and Jenna Wasakoski were selling "tussy-mussy" bouquets.
The bouquets, according to Tweed, were popular among married ladies in Victorian times, and were created for the event by Beverly's Flower Shop.
"It's lovely that the arts council puts on an event like this," she said. "It's great to see the support of the community for the event."
NCCAH director Jeanne Shaffer was happy with the turnout, citing the need to turn away vendors this year.
"We might be expanding the event next year," she said. "I think this was the best year for the tree decorations and everyone enjoyed talking to Santa and being downtown for Christmas."
The day's events wrapped up with a special showing of the movie "The Polar Express" at the arts center auditorium. Organized by the arts council, it was sponsored by the Shamokin Area Education Association and all children received a special gift of a bell with a red ribbon attached from Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School.