EBENSBURG – With Santa Claus and live reindeer, a parade and Victorian costumes, and – of course – former Pittsburgh Steeler James Harrison throwing a full-grown pine tree 23 feet, Ebensburg Borough celebrated the holiday season with the 14th annual Dickens of a Christmas on Saturday.
The three-day event, which concludes on Sunday, has, over the years, grown into a highly anticipated gathering for the town’s residents and visitors.
“It’s just a great way to kick off the Christmas season,” Ebensburg Mayor Randy Datsko said.
“We’ve got a lot of people participate in the parade. And obviously there are a whole lot of people lining the streets.”
J.P. Stevens, a former resident who now lives in Virginia, once again came home for the event and decked himself out in clothing inspired by the era of British author Charles Dickens.
“It’s just a special thing coming home and seeing how the town has grown and how all of this is still important to everybody,” Stevens said.
Likewise, Harrison, who has family ties to the area, visited.
He participated in this year’s inaugural tree throw that gave competitors the opportunity to “prove your strength by tossing some tannenbaums,” as organizer Mariah Duman, from Cresson Lake Playhouse, explained.
Saturday’s festivities started with a parade that included marching bands, horse-drawn sleighs and Santa Claus riding atop an old-style Dauntless Fire Company truck.
Later, children had the opportunity to meet reindeer displayed by Spruce Run Farm Reindeer.
“It was just nice to come up and see all the local fire stations out there,” said Nathan Pearson, whose 2-year-old son, Nash, happily stared transfixed at the reindeer for several minutes.
“I’m very excited for him to see fire trucks. It’s nice to just get out on a Saturday morning, and come up and see some friends, and see some reindeer.”
People not only watched the parade and participated in events, but also stopped into local businesses to purchase holiday gifts and food.
“I feel it’s important to get out, have the spirit, help the businesses out, bring people into town, and I love to dress up in the costumes and make it a cozy town because Ebensburg has such rich history,” Ebensburg Borough Councilwoman Theresa Jacoby said. “We just enjoy it.”