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Susquehanna Life

8 Truly Unique Ways to Celebrate the Holidays

Nov 19, 2015 09:20AM ● By Erica Shames

Koziar’s Christmas Village, Bernville,

William M. Koziar began decorating his home and property in 1948 for his wife Grace and their four children. People appreciated the beauty of the Koziar home and began to refer to it as the “Christmas House.” Mr. Koziar added new and unique items and lighted displays to the original layout each year. He decorated the lake, walkways, trees, fences, and buildings, and continually added to the barn and house. Visitors were granted access to the premises and the site became known as Koziar’s “Christmas Village.” Accolades include Best Outdoor Christmas Display in the World (Display World magazine).

“It’s a Wonderful Life” Festival and Parade, November 20

Downtown Indiana,

Indiana, hometown of Jimmy Stewart, star of the beloved movie It’s a Wonderful Life, kicks off the holidays early with a celebration of the town’s heritage—a parade and festival honoring the movie. Throughout the day It’s a Wonderful Life is shown free of charge at the local movie theatre. The town also hosts the Jimmy Stewart Museum, an appropriate stop during this one-of-a-kind event. A visit to Fleming’s Christmas Tree Farm rounds out this visit to the town nicknamed “the Christmas tree capital of the world.”

Night Before Christmas Train, December 4 through18

Strasburg Railroad,

Warmth from a potbelly stove, the aroma of freshly baked cookies and magic is in the air at an event reminiscent of the Polar Express. This special train recreates the excitement and anticipation of Christmas Eve, including the reading of Clement Moore’s The Night Before Christmas by someone dressed in a Victorian nightshirt and cap while riders enjoy cookies and milk. At the station, children are invited to listen to storybook readings of holiday classics aboard a heated stationary caboose and delight in rides aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motorcar. 

Christmas Tree Lighting in Boiling Springs, December 6

Boiling Springs Children’s Lake,

With a twist on the traditional Christmas tree lighting, Boiling Springs centers its focus on one of its town landmarks, Children’s Lake. Lights sparkle from a Christmas tree floating upon the lake, which is surrounded by luminaries. The whole town comes out to watch Santa row across the water to the children, instead of driving his traditional reindeer and sleigh. But have no fear; the reindeer are safe in the stable, awaiting Christmas Eve.

Christmas Magic, November 27- December 31

Rocky Ridge Park, York,

The park rangers in this special Pennsylvania park work hard to create a magical half-mile hiking trail bedecked in 600,000 lights. There are five heated pavilions to shield hikers from the chill of December and something eye-catching around every corner. 

Christkindl Market, December 10-12

Downtown Mifflinburg,

Some visitors claim that the little town of Mifflinburg has a Christkindl market more authentic than most German markets. Of the more than 100 vendors, highlights include a live nativity; sweet treats including cookies, strudel, candy apples, German roasted nuts, and a dozen other delicacies; and authentic German food including bratwurst, knockwurst, pork schnitzel, Hungarian goulash and schnitz un knepp.

Holiday at Landis Valley Bonfire, December 11

Landis Valley Village, Lancaster,

A celebration of a Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Take a wagon ride, tour several decorated historic buildings, huddle around a large bonfire and sing carols accompanied by the Lititz Moravian Trombone Choir. Afterwards, adjourn to the Yellow Barn for cookies and hot cider. Admission is free; visitors are asked to bring one or more non-perishable food items for donation to the Lancaster Food Bank. 

Chanukah Wonderland, December 16

Ardmore Music Hall,

Following the 5 p.m. lighting of the 10-foot-tall menorah at Suburban Square, the Chanukah Wonderland celebration moves to Ardmore Music Hall. From 5:30 to 7 p.m., participants enjoy latkes (potato pancakes), donuts, games and more. Chanukah is the 8-day celebration commemorating the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.

Dillsburg’s 23rd Annual New Year’s Eve Pickle Drop, December 31

In a creative twist on the classic New Year’s Eve ball drop, Dillsburg releases a larger- than-life papier-mâché pickle when the clock strikes midnight. In honor of its pickle-filled history, Dillsburg’s festival lasts from mid-afternoon until the pickle drop with specialty pickle soup and entertainment for all ages. Dance in the streets to the beat of Emcee Joe George. Vendors hawk fried pickles, French fries, funnel cake, pork BBQ, and novelties. The celebration ends with fireworks.  

Written by Becky Chambers.

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