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An Olde Tyme Christmas: Harpers Ferry Christmas event sees strong start

By Staff | Dec 13, 2019

Carolers in period dress lead the way through the streets in Harpers Ferry to kick off Olde Tyme Christmas on Friday evening. Toni Milbourne

HARPERS FERRY — Decked out in boughs of greenery and Civil War-era Christmas decorations, Harpers Ferry’s 49th Annual Olde Tyme Christmas celebration got off to a good start on Friday evening.

Visitors gathered on the opening evening in the heated tent on Shenandoah Street for a brief history of the event before heading out to take part in the lighting of the Yule Log. From fire site, the crowd continued up High Street, singing carols as candles were lit along the way with tapers lit in the yule log fire.

“I love singing Christmas carols with the community,” said Sherie Main, who annually attends the festivities. “It pulls us together at such a beautiful time of year.”

Shopkeepers kept their businesses open late into the evening hours to accommodate those who wanted to take advantage of finding a perfect gift in some of the specialty shops in town.

Pat Morse, who lives in the lower town, explored some of the wares available.

A Civil War reenactor's horse munches on hay in the lower town on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

“I just don’t normally get around to looking at all of the shops,” she said. “The holiday is the perfect time to see what’s new.”

Shops are open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Later Friday evening, the Living Nativity was open at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, which is always a crowd pleaser. Presented by the St. James Parish Youth Group, the event will be held this Saturday, from 6 and 8 p.m.

The weekend was filled with a variety of activities for folks of all ages.

For the children attending, The Great Zucchini, touted as the D.C. metro area’s funniest and most magical preschool and kindergarten entertainer, performs a colorful magic show where every child is a star. He joins Olde Tyme Christmas for the first time this year, performing at the train station on Potomac Street at 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m.

A favorite family event was the horse-drawn wagon rides through Lower Town. A Harpers Ferry National Historical Park interpreter provided historical facts while visitors enjoyed the ride. Tours are provided by Country Roads Carriage.

Musicians could be found strolling the streets in period garb playing old-time music on mandolins and fiddles as well as leading the favorite carol singing.

At 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at St. Peter’s, Camp Hill-Wesley UMC Angel Band will perform. Started in 2008, Angel Band was formed by congregation members who were interested in learning to play the mountain dulcimer. The group’s name is derived from an old hymn, “Oh Come, Angel Band” written by Jefferson Hascall in 1860. The band features dulcimers, the psaltry, guitar, mandolin and upright bass, along with beautiful vocals. The Angel Band also plays the last Sunday of every month at the Camp Hill-Wesley UMC service at 11 a.m.

A full schedule of events as well as other detailed information is available at www.harpersferryotc.com

It is recommended to park at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Visitor Center, which is the starting point for the Park’s regular shuttle bus service to and from Lower Town. Shuttle hours will be extended for the two Olde Tyme Christmas weekends until 9:30 p.m. Saturdays and 6:30 p.m. Sundays.

Also coming to Harpers Ferry this weekend, the Harpers Ferry Parks and Recreation will host their annual Cookie Walk, where cookies can be bought by the pound. The event will be held this year at the Town Hall at the corner of Washington at Franklin streets beginning at 10 s.m. the Friendship Fire Department will host their annual Christmas parade, beginning at the Jefferson County Visitor’s Center Saturday at 2 p.m.