MILESBURG — It has been more than a decade since then-Milesburg council members Sandy Dieterle and Virgina Letterman had an idea to showcase the pride of community residents with a holiday celebration event.
What started as a small gathering of community members around a large pine tree at a private home has now grown into a town-wide event that includes a visit by Santa, homemade soup and baked good sales, a craft show and much more.
“We used to light up that large pine tree with lights donated by the Milesburg American Legion,” said Dieterle. “But, as the years passed, the property was sold and the lights burned out. Many residents still remember that big tree and its lighted beauty.”
Despite the property sale and light issue, the women pushed on, seeking donations and gathering decorations to ensure the community would celebrate the holiday season year in and year out.
Dieterle, who is organizing the celebration with Gloria Kiehl, said unlike in years past, the event will take place before Thanksgiving. She hopes the change is welcomed by the residents.
“As long as the community is happy and want to continue doing it, I most certainly will do all I can to keep it going,” she said.
Milesburg Hometown Christmas will include all the staples that keep the residents coming back, including the popular visits with Santa in the town’s post office, which happens thanks to the Dean Wetzler family.
She also said Kiehl’s work in filling the Milesburg Community Center with crafts, food items and several different kinds of vendors is a popular attraction to the event. Fresh trees and wreaths can be found at Fishers Market and the Baptist Church will have a homemade soup sale.
She said those who attend may see vendors who have participated for years, and others may meet new people selling their crafts or their secret-recipe Christmas cookies.
“Vendors and participants change,” she said, “but the spirit of Christmas is always the same.”
The 2019 Grange Fair Queen Morgan Bair will be on hand to give out candy canes and local businesses such as Two Sisters on Front Street and Weaver Family Crafts on Turnpike Street always showcase special items for sale during the event. The Baptist Church on Market Street will offer unique hand-crafted items, soups and baked goods.
There are a few new items on the event schedule in 2019, said Dieterle, including tours of “The Crooked House,” an art project on Market Street that has been the ongoing work of artist Benjamin Fehl since 2004.
“The Crooked House tours will be open and very educational and fun,” she said. “Everyone needs to stop by and see it.”
A rummage sale is a new addition this year and will be held at Milesburg Auto. Milesburg mayor Brandon Schadle will also be out and about, strolling the streets to meet and greet with members of the community.
The Milesburg Museum will also be open during the celebration, and offer visitors spiced cider and cookies.
Vendor sports are still available by contacting Dieterle at (814) 571-9761. Donations and ideas are also welcomed.
Maps for the event can help people navigate the community and will be available from Santa and at various locations throughout town.
“I enjoy the pride I feel when I see people in our community with the Christmas spirit,” said Dieterle. “I love living here. I’ve always said, we are a small town, but you don’t have to be grand to be great.”