Rediscovering Christmas Magic
Crisp December breezes carry the promise of another Frederick winter. Scarves, toques, gloves and overcoats emerge from hibernation in boxes tucked away in attics and basements. In some places, the chilling change of seasons and onset of winter’s icy breath brings with it a bunker mentality, the desire to burrow in with a cup of hot chocolate and a crackling fire.
Not so in downtown Frederick!
The drop in temperature signals an increase in spirit, namely the Spirit of Christmas.
A recent evening walk along South Market Street provides all the necessary proof. An older couple, clearly out-of-towners, was strolling south toward the creek. As they approached the Canal Bar (Kidd’s to those who really know), the lady leaned into gent and said: “I can’t believe how beautiful this place is. It’s like a Christmas storybook.” Their appreciation of the beauty and serenity of that walk and those sights was a simple reminder that things are pretty good with the world!
She was referring to the little white lights that drape the trees in our downtown and light our way along the brick and concrete walking paths.
That treasured tradition was in jeopardy, a potential victim to a budget crisis of epic proportions. Older light strings had outlived their useful life, and last year’s devastating snowstorms took care of the rest. The cost to purchase replacements meant sacrificing some more pressing public priority.
In the true spirit of the holidays in downtown Frederick, generous donors leapt into the void with wallets and purses opened. Business owners who benefit directly from increased foot traffic rallied through the Downtown Frederick Partnership, WFMD radio cranked up their airwaves, and Mayor Randy McClement and the aldermen pledged to hang all lights purchased through private donations.
Crisis averted, the crews from the Department of Public Works busied themselves with hanging the new LED lights up and down Market and Patrick streets. Thanks to new business partners along the Carroll Creek Park, lights now illuminate those trees as well.
Christmas in downtown Frederick is a full-tilt, in your face affair. Clearly not for the faint of heart, you almost need a Scrooge conversion to make it from Thanksgiving to December 25th.
It’s not just the twinkling lights in the historic district, either.
The events calendar is chockfull of fun stuff, all designed to get you in full holiday joy mode. Scents and Sweets filled the Cultural Arts Center with the aroma of gingerbread, and coupled with the Festival of Greens, mixed in a healthy dose of holly and evergreen.
The Festival of Lights filled Court Square with song and candlelight, ending with the crowd making their way through the streets singing Silent Night. Choirs from Frederick High, Frederick Presbyterian and Asbury United Methodist shared their gifts of song with a crowd of grateful ears.
The Holiday House Tour finds graceful and elegantly decorated private homes opened for inspection, with noted decorators enlisted for their artistic skill and vision.
The Kris Kringle Procession reminds us of our German heritage, bringing a cast of old world and modern characters from Everedy Square, through the streets of downtown, to the Baker Park band shell. A fun little ceremony culminates with the lighting the big evergreen tree.
The Weinberg Center will be filled with the sights and sounds of The Nutcracker. This treasured Frederick tradition features young locally trained ballet dancers sharing the stage with principal dancers from nationally recognized ballet companies.
Tad Janes and dozens of his friends will no doubt bring back another Christmas holiday tradition, the tale of old Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Tad himself takes on the role of the miserly old Scrooge, and his transformation from curmudgeon to Christmas cheerleader is always fun and renewing.
While all of this is going on, WFMD Morning News Express anchor Bob Miller conducts the always successful Christmas Cash for Kids. The star of this show isn’t really Bob, station staff, volunteers like Ron and Jennifer Ross, or even legends like Kemosabe Joe, Jim Bohannon or Johnny Holliday. The stars of this show are the tens of thousands of listeners who generously donate to make the miracle of Christmas come true for the children of people facing challenging times. This year, after five days of pleading, laughing, crying, and telling decades of heart-warming stories, Bob and company tallied over $150,000 to provide Christmas memories for a couple thousand children in Frederick County.
There is much to love about life in the City of Frederick. When you wander downtown under tens of thousands of twinkling lights, take in a holiday-themed theatrical performance, donate to your favorite local charity, or attend one of dozens of free events, take some time to reflect on the blessings that fill your life.
If we can rediscover the simple joys of childlike wonder while strolling through downtown Frederick, maybe, just maybe, we can find a way to hold on to that feeling for more than a month.