HOPE — The first public Christmas celebration of the season will take place Friday in Hope.
“Christmas of Yesteryear” will be 5 to 8 p.m. in and around the Hope Town Square. Organizers say the holiday festival is always held six days before Thanksgiving, so it does not conflict with private and public gatherings held during the traditional holiday season.
Some new attractions have been added, but the event is being held under continued health concerns regarding COVID-19, according to Yellow Trail Museum President and event coordinator Jessica Brown. Last year, all public holiday events, including “Christmas of Yesteryear” were canceled due to the pandemic.
At 5 p.m. Friday, a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony will take place at the bandstand in the town square.
The ceremony will feature members of the German Club from Hauser Jr.-Sr. High School giving a nod to the town’s German heritage by singing “Oh Tannenbaum” (Oh, Christmas Tree) and “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night).
The round-trip carriage rides that have featured “ghosts” from the town’s past to step out of the shadows will not be offered this year. However, the historical figures will present a scripted performance for two shows — at 5:30 and 7 p.m. — at the bandstand, Brown said.
Portrayals of town founders Martin and Susannah Hauser are featured every year. But new characters from Hope’s history that will come alive Friday include an educator and school administrator from the 19th century – prominent male and female athletes – mechanic Elda Spaugh, who created Hope’s historic Yellow Trail in the 1910s – and Prudence Winterrowd, a prominent women’s suffrage figure whose efforts helped women win the right to vote in 1920.
The cast will be: Narrator – Lily Hines; Susannah Hauser -Abby Calendar; Martin Hauser – Pat Walters; Sarah Wolle – Rachel Hoke; Edith Romig -Tessa Roberts; Vern Miller -Will Walters; Prudence Winterrowd -Jessica Brown; Ella Regennas – Sally Scrogham and Elda Spaugh -Dave Miller.
Due to the health risks involved in both crowding children together and having them use the same utensils, there will not be cookie decorating for kids at the museum, Brown said. However, the popular bake sale at the facility, located on the southwest corner of Jackson and Main streets, will be held.
In the past, Santa Claus has been on the east side of the square. But this year, Old St. Nick will be situated inside the Yellow Trail Museum and Visitors Center, located on the southwest corner of Main and Jackson streets.
Children will be allowed to sit on Santa’s lap and give him their wish list only if the parents give their approval, Brown said.
There will also be a live nativity this year in the empty lot next to Willow Leaves , 326 Jackson St., at both 6:30 and 7 p.m., Brown said.
Strolling carolers have been a favorite feature in the past. While the carolers will return, they will be situated inside Willow Leaves. Rather than concern about viruses, the carolers are staying in one place to accommodate their leader, who is recovering from shoulder injuries.
A chicken and noodle dinner will be provided at Willow Leaves during the event.
While most of the stores in downtown Hope will be open, business owners say the emphasis of the festival is to rekindle warm relationships with friends, rather than to generate sales.
“We enjoy coming together as a community to provide free or low-cost events, so most everybody can participate,” Brown said.