CREATING A HOLIDAY atmosphere not unlike the town in the movie It's a Wonderful Life, Hampstead officials will throw the switch Friday to illuminate the town park and welcome the season.
The park in front of the former Hampstead Elementary School has been transformed into a garden of lighted and moving figures, and the town Christmas tree has been placed on Main Street.
At 7 p.m. Friday, the flashing lights and screaming sirens of the firetruck from Hampstead Volunteer Fire Department will signal the arrival of Mayor Christopher M. Nevin and Santa Claus, as they are driven down Main Street from the fire station to the park.
Nevin will light the town Christmas tree at the War Memorial, then turn on lights in the garden on the hillside behind it. Santa will weave through the crowd on his way to the throne in the Santa House.
"It's very nice. Usually we have a good turnout, and depending upon the weather, probably 100, if not more, people will come," said Sue Hansen, town secretary.
Those attending should arrive at the park well ahead of the 7 p.m. lighting to hear instrumental ensemble groups from Spring Garden Elementary School play in the band shell. Led by school music instructor Karen Rogers, the young musicians lend a hometown feel to the event.
In recent years, ensemble groups have included choirs for flute, brass, strings and woodwinds.
In time for Thanksgiving, the town's Public Works Department, led by Roger Steger, hung lighted wreaths from streetlight posts. Steger and his crew have installed the moving reindeer, snowmen, penguins and other figures in the town park.
After the ceremonial lighting Friday, they'll turn on the lights at 6 p.m. daily until New Year's Day.
Santa will be in the Santa House to hear children's requests from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday during the festivities and on weekends until Christmas. Children can be photographed with him, and donations will be accepted for the pictures, Hansen said.
Scout tree sale
Selecting a Douglas fir from Cub Scout Pack 790 is an easy way to take home the Christmas tree.
The troop's tree sales lot, adjacent to Wendy's Restaurant near Roberts Field Shopping Center, is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays until all trees are sold.
The lot offers 150 freshly cut trees grown by Sewell's farm in Taneytown.
"There's not an ugly tree in the bunch," said Mike Azzarello, committee chairman for the Scout pack. Azzarello has been instrumental in the tree sale for most of the 11 years the Scouts have sold trees. The tree sale benefits pack activities.
He said community volunteers helped set up the tree stand. Green's Garage hauled the shed to the site to shelter the Scouts. Lowe's and 84 Lumber donated lumber.
Trees sell for $25 each.
Cub Scout Pack 790 is sponsored by Spring Garden Elementary School. It recently welcomed a number of Scouts from Cub Pack 380, which has disbanded.
Encore Community Music Association will present a free winter concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at North Carroll High School.
As a community band and orchestra, Encore draws members from all ages, giving adult and child musicians opportunities to perform together in a professional setting.
"It's a wonderful concert, and so beneficial for the performers," said Debi Shultz, whose seventh-grade daughter, Megan, plays flute in the band.
Members, who are selected through audition, rehearse weekly. Throughout the year, professional musicians tutor members of the group on technique.
Pottery studio is open
Ken Hankins, Hampstead pottery artist, will open his studio at Shiloh Pottery this weekend for visitors. Hankins has created stoneware bowls and pots and taught children and adults since 1972. He will demonstrate pottery techniques.
Albin Drzewianowski, blacksmith, will create handcrafted items from the blacksmith's forge.
The Christmas Open Studio will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Hankins' family farm, 1027 Brodbeck Road, which can be reached by Shiloh Road or Route 482.
Information: 410-239-8888 or www.shilohpottery.com.
Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.