Holiday spirits shine in downtown Pottstown – The Mercury


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POTTSTOWN — It wasn’t hard to find holiday spirit in downtown Pottstown Saturday.

  • Dressed as elves and helpers, the faithful crew of Pottstown's champion dragon boat team ferries Santa across the Schuylkill Saturday.
    (Evan Brandt -- MediaNews Group)

  • Santa waves to the crowd at Riverfront Park Saturday.
    (Evan Brandt -- MediaNews Group)

  • Santa posed for lots and lots of photos Saturday outside the Santa house at The Alley.
    (Evan Brandt -- MediaNews Group)

  • Lots of Christmas cookes were decorated SAturday at Beverly's Pastry "Shop.
    (Image from screenshot)

  • Pottstown school children sing carols on the steps of Pottstown Borough Hall Saturday.
    (Evan Brandt -- MediaNews Group)

  • The 20 foot tree in Smith Family Plaza was donated by Ringing Dale Tree Farm.
    (Evan Brandt -- MediaNews Group)

  • Jess Reeb of Pottstown brought her children Zeke, 2 and Piper, 3 to Saturday's tree lighting in a stroller that had its own light display.
    (Evan Brandt -- MediaNews Group)

  • Jane Nyamunge, left, takes a photo of Chris Michuki in front of Pottstown newly lit Christmas tree Saturday in Smith Family Plaza.
    (Evan Brandt -- MediaNews Group_

Santa arrived on the shores of the Schuylkill River at noon, carefully stepping out of a dragon boat paddled down from the North Pole by the exhausted Pottstown Dragon Warriors promptly at noon.

There, he was met by a crowd of about 150 people which included 12-year-old Lloyd Williams.

Santa chats with Lloyd Williams, 12 about this year’s with list.(Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)

Williams told Santa, matter-of-factly, that he had been waiting four years for a choo-choo, to which old Kris Kringle replied that he believes Williams “will get one eventually.” Williams did not seem so sure to be satisfied with that answer.

Evelyn Fadden, 1, and her sister Amberly, 3, mostly just stood in open-mouthed amazement.

The Fadden family: Evelyn, 1, Amberly 3, Ann Marie and Gerry, await Santa’s arrival in Riverfront Park Saturday.(Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)

Finally, Amberly approached the jolly old elf tentatively, then thought better of it and ran back to the waiting arms of her parents Ann Marie and Gerry, who were beaming as only parents dressed as elves themselves can beam.

St. Nick made his way up the grassy bank to the Schuylkill River Heritage Center, where he had a look at the small museum there.

A Phillies Fire Company truck gives Santa a lift to downtown Pottstown Saturday.(Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)

Then, to much waving and shouts, he hopped aboard a ladder truck from the Phillies Fire Company and headed off to High Street.

Santa chats with the Seel children, Logan, 7 and Rylee, 4 at The Alley in downtown Pottstown Saturday.(MediaNews Group)

There, he settled into a comfortable chair at the Santa House set up at The Alley where he greeted visitors, listened to gift requests and posed endlessly for photos with kids age 1 to 92.

During a break in the greetings, he spoke briefly with a reporter.

To everyone’s surprise, the centuries-old saint said like many merchants this year, he is experiencing labor and supply issues.

It seems the elves want a raise.

“I pay them in candy canes and Hershey’s kisses (what else would a Pennsylvania Santa pay?) but now they want Reese’s too. Well, I’ll tell you now, that’s not going to happen,” Santa said.

But the pace has slowed in the workshop and Santa said he is depending more on Christmas magic than ever before to make sure that Christmas arrives on schedule and that his sleigh is filled to the brim with toys for the good little girls and boys.

Jacob Moylan, 5, of Lower Pottsgrove, tries his hand at Giant Jenga at The Alley Saturday.(Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)

At The Alley, shoppers and merry-makers sipped cider, hot chocolate and, sometimes something stronger around braziers emitting wood smoke while  kids colored, made crafts, played corn hole or giant Jenga, along with other activities provided by the Pottstown Children’s Discovery Center

Many strolled down High Street looking for items in the holiday scavenger hunt and decorating Christmas cookies at Beverly’s Pastries.

Ticket-holders clamored into the Steel River Playhouse for the matinee showing of “A Christmas Carol.” Old Scrooge is played this year by none other than Pottstown’s own Pennsylvania state representative Joe Ciresi.

Later in the evening, children from Pottstown elementary schools joined Pottstown seniors singing carols on the steps of borough hall.

Pottstown music teacher Lori Hoshaw leads school children in song Saturday night at the tree-lighting ceremony.(Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)

In Smith Family Plaza, a 20-foot tall tree donated by Ringing Dale Tree Farm awaited the switch being thrown to illuminate its 600 feet of lights strung through its branches.

Peggy Lee-Clark, executive director of Pottstown Area Economic Development, which arranged the day’s festivities, thanked all those who had made the day possible and reminded the crowd “Shop small is not just one day of the year. What we’re doing here today would not have been possible without Pottstown’s small businesses that give back to the community all year long, so please support them.”

Then, with the crowd counting down from five, Mayor Stephanie Henrick flicked the switch and the tree burst into light, accompanied by the applause from the crowd, which then joined the chorus singing more carols.

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