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Church tour set in Park’s yule events

By Staff | Dec 18, 2009

Visitors enjoying the Military and Citizen Yuletide Dance at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. This is the final weekend of the annual Old Tyme Christmas festivities. NPS Photo

HARPERS FERRY – Harpers Ferry’s Old Tyme Christmas Celebration marks 39 years in 2009.

Organizers have added a third Saturday to the traditional two-weekend slate, giving visitors a chance to see what the holidays would have been like in a Civil War garrison town.

This Saturday, Dec. 19, a walking tour of Harpers Ferry churches with food and refreshments is planned. Soup and sandwiches and a Christmas concert are set at Camp Hill United Methodist Church. Rick Garland, of O’ Be JoyFull Historical Tours & Entertainment leads the tour with stories about Harpers Ferry Christmases of yore.

Harpers Ferry inn owner Karan Townsend is a member of the Merchants Association, the Harpers Ferry Foundation and the Convention and Visitors Bureau and has been instrumental in helping organize the events. Townsend owns and operates The Town’s Inn (www.thetownsinn.com) at 175 and 179 High St. Restored in 2007, the inn boasts seven rooms.

“Even if the weather is bad, we’ll have enough indoors … to make it fun for people to come,” says Townsend. “We do prepare for bad weather.”

The Harpers Ferry Merchants Association is offering a number of promotions during Old Tyme Christmas, including coupons and free posters depicting John Brown’s Fort. The posters are offered after a visitor shops at five local businesses.

“We’re hoping that the posters will become collectors items,” Townsend says.

About 200 NPS volunteers dressed in period clothing, including a Civil War-era Santa Claus, will be stationed thoughout the village to help visitors understand everyday life in “a new State of West Virginia,” says Melinda Day, lead park ranger with the Period Exhibits Branch and the coordinator for living history interns and volunteers. Many of the performances take place in Lower Town where in a large tent.

Events kicked off Dec. 4 with opening ceremonies and a yule log celebration on Shenandoah Street, followed by caroling up High Street.

Through Jan. 6, the Town will be arrayed in fragrant green garlands, red bows, and twinkling lights (which give a modern but warm touch to the 1860 living history village).

Through Saturday, shops and streets will be filled with special treats for the enjoyment of visitors of all ages: musical performances, puppet shows, storytelling, visits with Santa, caroling, arts and crafts shows, and more.

Following is the schedule for the O’Be JoyFull guided tour of churches:

5:30 p.m. – Tour of St. John’s Episcopal.

6 p.m. – Tour of St. John’s Lutheran.

6:30 p.m. – Tour of Camp Hill United Methodist Church

7 p.m.: O’ Be Joyfull Christmas Concert, Rick Garland, Camp Hill United Methodist Church.

– Some events are weather permitting. See www.HistoricHarpersFerry.com for latest information and schedules.