THE CITY OF Taneytown will mark the start of the holiday season Saturday with its third annual downtown Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and parade -- and a visit from Santa Claus.
The festivities will begin at 3 p.m. with the holiday parade, which starts at the Farmers & Mechanics Bank building at Trevanion Road and Baltimore Street.
Kim Carter, the event's organizer, says the parade will move along Baltimore Street and finish at Taneytown Shopping Center. The parade will include floats with Santa Claus, Northwest Middle School's band and the Lions and Kiwanis clubs.
Santa will greet children at his little house in the shopping center. Caroling and refreshments will be featured.
"This is a neat way to start things off," Carter said.
She said she welcomes groups to join the parade, which she began planning in August. "The more the merrier," she said. Groups interested should contact her at 410-751-1566.
The Chamber of Commerce sponsors the event.
People should start to gather for the tree lighting about 5 p.m. at the new police station. The Francis Scott Key High School Jazz Ensemble will provide entertainment, and Mayor Henry C. Heine Jr. will say a few words.
At 5:30 p.m., church bells will toll, and Police Chief Bill Tyler will light the tree, said Patty Bianca, who helped organize the event.
Also joining the ceremony will be Runnymede Elementary School's chorus under the direction of Karen Quillan, the school's music teacher, and Northwest Middle School's chorus under the direction of Judy Guynn. At 5:55 p.m., tenor soloist Tom Nicholls will sing "O Holy Night." The ceremony will end at 6 p.m.
Messiah Methodist Church's open house is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with free hot chocolate and cookies. Many downtown businesses also will be open, including Every Bloomin' Thing Flower and Gift Shop, Misty Mountain Country Store, Clover Carpet and Furniture, Irish Moon Coffee Shop, and Somerset House.
Bianca said the festivities are possible because of the cooperation of so many people.
"We started organizing the event last April," she said. "Instead of a few people doing all the work, we have everyone involved."
She praised Sandi Miller for her efforts in working with the businesses and schools.
"Sandi Miller is the genesis of downtown Christmas," she said.
Information: 410-840-3385 or 410-751-1100.
Northwest Middle School's Aloha Club will sponsor basket bingo tomorrow night at the school's cafeteria. Tickets are $10 in advance for 20 games or $12 at the door. Players can purchase extra cards at $5 each. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and games start at 7 p.m. Light food will be sold.
Information: 410-756-4156, 410-751-1410 or 410-751-0058.
Taneytown Heritage Committee will sponsor its annual Christmas Door/Home decorating contest. The event will be judged the week of Dec. 15. All homes and businesses must be decorated and lighted by 5:30 p.m. daily that week.
Entry forms are available at the library and at Every Bloomin' Thing at 9 York St. until 3 p.m. Wednesday. Residents also may register by phone. Information: 410-756-2572.
Jean Marie Beall's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.