In recent years Chesapeake City, the old canal town on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, has been revitalized. This small riverfront town began to blossom when the C&D canal opened in 1820 and one of the locks was built right next to the town. The canal was the main link connecting the port cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia. While waiting for the lock to fill, the ship's passengers frequently sought diversion ashore at Chesapeake City. Thus began the town's boom years, which existed between 1829 and 1929 when the canal company went bankrupt. The Army's Corps of Engineers bought the canal and removed the locks. As the town lost its tourist trade, it began to fade. Then in 1984 some residents of the area decided to restore some of the buildings and bought up decaying properties. Today many of the town's 19th century houses have been restored and an increasing number of antique and other specialty shops have sprung up. South Cheapeake City is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A good time to plan a visit would be on Saturday during the annual Holiday Happening, sponsored by the Historic Merchants Association from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The town will take on a festive atmosphere, with houses and shops decorated for Christmas and merchants offering holiday specials. Visitors can start with a carriage ride around the town and stop at Pell Gardens to see a historic carriage display, then visit Franklin Hall, the first of the town's buildings to be renovated. There the Cecil Arts Council will hold an exhibit of works by local artists.
A historic house tour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. features eight restored houses, dating from 1828 to 1854. Tickets cost $8 and include refreshments at the Town Hall. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Ronald McDonald House. Several choral groups will perform at the Band Shell in Pell Gardens and the Ronald McDonald Show is scheduled there at 4 p.m.
Highlight of the day will be the arrival of Santa by boat at 4:30 p.m. Afterward he will meet with children at Franklin Hall. There will also be boat rides on the canal throughout the day. The 40-minute cruises aboard an old Chesapeake Bay workboat offer a narrated history of the area. The cost is $5.
There is no admission charge. Take Interstate 95 to Route 272 toward North East. Turn left on U.S. 40 toward Elkton then turn right on Route 213. Make an immediate right turn after the Canal Bridge to Chesapeake City. For information, call (301) 885-5995 or (301) 885-2797.
Christmas at Hersheypark
The more than 300,000 twinkling lights at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane will serve as the centerpiece of the townwide Christmas celebration in Hershey, Pa., which opens for the ninth year on Friday and continues through Dec. 29. The celebration features entertainment, rides, games, food and shopping. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, the Gingerbread Man and other costume characters will be on hand to greet visitors along with Santa Claus.
Many of the children's rides will be open on a pay-per-ride basis as well as a few of the major ones, such as the antique carrousel. Gift shops along Christmas Candylane will offer handcrafted gifts and specialty merchandise. There will be daily choral performances and a strolling brass ensemble and many children's events. Highlights include a community tree-lighting ceremony with a choral sing-along, an animal petting corral, Santa and free refreshments; live nativity scene; the first Holly Tour of Kitchens; the Perry Como Holiday Show; "The Nutcracker" ballet; and several children's events at the Hershey Museum, including a puppet show and workshop, a magic show and a Christmas party.
The Tudor Rose Tavern will again host Dinner With Dickens, a holiday feast featuring performances by characters from Dickens' stories. The dinners will be held most Thursdays and Sundays with several seatings each day. Reservations are required.
The Christmas celebration will be open daily Wednesdays to Sundays, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas day, through Dec. 29. Hours vary. Admission is free.
0 For a complete schedule, call (800) HERSHEY.
Gifts from museum shops
Museum shops can often solve the problem of what to give the hard-to-please, and at Christmas they are stocked with many unusual items. The Hagley's Festival of Museum Shopping next weekend brings together 21 museum shops from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and D.C. The Hagley Museum and Library stands on the site of the old du Pont black powder mills and estate in Wilmington, Del.