Large crowds turn out for Peebles’ annual holiday festival –
Story and photos by Patricia Beech –
Braving the cold winter weather, a crowd of several hundred people gathered Saturday evening Dec. 3 on the village green in Peebles to celebrate the highlight of the town’s day-long holiday festival – the lighting of the town Christmas tree.
“Every year we recognize individuals, usually those who have been in business for a number of years, by asking them to light the tree,” said Larry Shively, President of the Peebles Area Business Association (PABA).
This year Bob and Sharon Malcom and their family members were asked to illuminate the 15-foot living evergreen.
“For several years we’ve asked the Malcoms to light the tree, but Sharon, who served many years as PABA’s President, always wanted other people to get that recognition,” said Shively. “This year it was the unanimous decision of PABA’s members to honor them, and happily, they said yes.”
Before the ceremony began members of the Methodist church served hot chocolate and coffee to the growing crowd and 30 students from the local elementary school delivered a Christmas concert. Ken Smith, of C103 Radio in West Union broadcasted the event.
“We were really pleased that C103 came,” said Shively. “They’ve covered this every year, and we really appreciate that.”
Hometown Christmas, which is sponsored by PABA, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Shively says that organizing the event is a group effort. “All of the PABA members contribute their time and the work is divided between committees,” he said. “We’ve done it so for long that everyone knows their jobs and it’s not nearly as much work as it used to be.”
The festivities kicked off at 10 a.m. with the popular Craft and Art Fair in the front hall of the American Legion. The show’s organizer, PABA member Mary Dunlap agreed with Shively, “Organizing the show has gotten easier each year, everything is laid out and our vendors return every year because they say they like the community atmosphere,” said Dunlap.
Throughout the day, buyers and lookers wandered past booths featuring the work of top-of-the-line artisans and crafters of primitive Christmas decor.
Crafter Dan Gammon has participated in the craft fair since its beginning.
“I enjoy being a part of this show every year,” Gammon said. “I get a lot of my ideas by going to other shows, and I like sharing the items I’ve created with the people who come out every year.”
Outside the Legion Hall, the local Lions Club sold hot chocolate, popcorn and holiday sweets to the shoppers.
Santa arrived at the festivities at 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Escorted to the village green by the Peebles Fire Department, he and Mrs. Claus passed out brown paper treat bags to the children while Chaplin Steve Zinser led community members in singing Christmas carols.
PABA Secretary Rose White, who organized the decorating of the tree said, “Peebles has always been a close knit town, and we’re happy to see so many people come out to celebrate the Christmas season together.”