Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas in Small Pennsylvania Towns

I live near the small Pennsylvania town of Thompsontown and travel through many others to work, to shop, and to visit family. Most of the small towns in Central Pennsylvania celebrate in similar ways. 

 Almost all of our small towns hang decorations of wreaths, angels, and other assorted other shapes lit up by Christmas lights from their street light poles. This year Selinsgrove, Read More
one of our slightly larger towns, gets my vote for best town decorations.

A community Christmas tree is often erected in a prominent place, on the square or in the town park. Millerstown even holds an official tree lighting ceremony. 

Many people decorate their homes with lights, lawn displays, and door trims. In Mifflintown, by turning in at Ninth Street, you can find a unique display. The sign in front of the house reads. “Turn to station 104.5 FM,” When you find the channel, listen and watch, you discover that the blinking lights go together with the music.

 Other important events include the local bazaars and craft shows. This past Saturday, Richfield had its Christmas in the Park celebration which includes a religious pageant of Mary and Joseph, music, vendors of gifts and food, and church reach-outs. Last week, Millerstown held its large Christmas craft show which benefits the town itself. The proceeds will go toward beautifying the town all through the year.

Some church people in our area work hard all year on craft items and then have a bazaar to raise money for their church. Next Saturday, I plan to attend the one at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church outside Mifflin in Licking Creek Valley. Almost every church holds its own individual children’s program and many perform an adult cantata. Our church, Richfield Mennonite has planned both, a children’s program on December 14 and a cantata on December 21. 

One child favorite is the appearance of Santa at a local fire hall. They can sit on his lap to tell their wishes for gifts and receive a small candy or gift in return. I know Thompsontown usually does this. There are probably more. 

I remember years when a home tour was organized, especially the year when my in-law’s house and their Smith School was involved. Tickets are sold in advance for holders to receive a list of the homes involved. On the day of tour, the participant drives his car on the route given and stops for a tour of each listed Christmas decorated home or historic site.

In lots of ways, small town people make Christmas special. One thing I notice from the type of decorations at their houses, the kind of gift items they offer for sale, and the part their churches play in the holiday, most value the true meaning of Christmas as Christ’s birth.


  1. Wow! I wonder how the lights are set up in Millerstown to go to the music. That is awesome!

    For the last several years there has been a live nativity at Middlecreek Farms in Middleburg.

    1. You ought to visit the light/music display you'd love it, but go to Mifflintown, not Millerstown. I've never been to the Middlecreek Farm nativity, but I've heard that it is very nice.