The Centre Region will boost the yuletide cheer this weekend with a variety of holiday-themed events and winter activities.
Buy gifts, be merry
In Millheim, the borough will host Merry Millheim. The event began three years ago, but it was officially named last year, and includes business that come together to offer guests music, food, shopping and children’s activities. The weekend event will benefit the East Penns Valley Library, which closed earlier this year and reopened in the fall thanks to a team of volunteers.
Event organizer Martha Hoffman, owner of Inglebean Coffee House, said the Millheim Business Community wanted to encourage excitement and development in Millheim.
“This was one of the ways to get people to take advantage of what we have in our little area,” Hoffman said. “People can have a really nice weekend and see that positive energy.”
She said about 300 people are expected to hit the borough when Merry Millheim starts on Dec. 6.
“They’ll see it’s a very welcoming community and a good place to start the holidays,” Hoffman said.
Many area businesses will participate in the event, with art-and-craft sales, spa services, a pet photo booth, refreshments and open houses.
Take the plunge
“At first it was an item on the bucket list, but now it’s become an annual tradition,” said Polar Bear plunger Jonathan McVerry. This is his fourth year as a dipper.
The YMCA of Centre County’s annual fundraiser encourages the thick-skinned to solicit donations for a dip in Sayers Dam at Bald Eagle State Park in Howard.
“I really enjoy getting up early on plunge day and jumping in with friends,” he said. “There is a lot of energy, support from friends and family, and it’s for a great cause. It’s a win-win-win, and 15 seconds of indescribable, bone-cracking frigidness is worth it for the daylong party and a lifetime of conversation starters.”
Registration for plunge begins at 10 a.m. Dec. 7 at Bald Eagle State Park. The YMCA said it expects almost 200 participants to take a dip in the chilly waters. A minimum of $75 is required for the plungers, but a dry audience is encouraged.
McVerry, of Lemont, is taking the plunge with others from State College Young Professionals, who are aiming to raise the most money and have the best costumes. With a group of 30 members so far, his group’s goal is to raise $7,000. So far, McVerry said he has raised more than $200 and used social media to help spread the word and solicit donations.
For first-time polar plungers, McVerry said to take the dip with as little clothes on as possible.
“Walking out with ice-cold soaked shirts and pants weighing you down is killer,” he said.
Another veteran polar bear plunge participant, Stephanie Koons, of State College, also of State College Young Professionals, advises newcomers to take a cold shower beforehand. By the time she jumps in the lake, she will have raised $100, she said.
“I think there’s something healthy about doing something a little on the crazy side in a structured environment, especially if it’s for a good cause,” Koons said. “And the YMCA certainly does a lot of good things for our community.”
A German Christmas
She added that said 19 Centre County-based vendors would be on hand throughout the weekend, while Christmas carolers will sing holiday favorites Dec. 6. Penn State students will also make an appearance to sing German songs for the crowd.
The Christmas market will feature crafts, jewelry, clothing, books, wreaths, gifts, local products, arts and crafts, and children’s activities.
All proceeds will go toward the restoration and maintenance of the historic grain elevator and coal shed. Smith expects about 500 people to attend the two-day event and hopes to raise about $1,000.
“It’s the kind of event that does raise a whole lot of money, but brings a lot of people together for the holidays,” Smith said.
Smith said the event was started five years ago. Her daughter’s husband is from Berlin, and Smith wanted to create an event that was based around the German tradition — with the help from Lemont Village Association committee members.
“We have quite a few Germans in the area and get people who come from all over just to get this kind of atmosphere,” Smith said. “It’s a nice, positive event for everyone.”
Also included among this weekend’s events are Boalsburg‘s Hometown Christmas, the Winter Crafts Market at Mount Nittany Middle School, Penn State School of Music’s Mosaic Concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 8 at Eisenhower Auditorium, the Polar Express trolley rides starting Dec. 7 at the Sc hlow Centre Region Library.
Christmas celebrationsFifth annual “Weihnachtsmarkt,” www.lemontvillage.org Merry Millheim, www.millheimpa.com Merry Millheim, www.millheimpa.com Fifth annual “Weihnachtsmarkt” Christmas Market, www.lemontvillage.org
Holiday sales and themed eventsHoliday craft show, Polar Bear Plunge, Free Christmas dinner and caroling, Alternative Christmas Fair and Children’s Fair, www.ubbcwelcome.org “Sing A Song of Christmas” cantata by the Fillmore Singers, “An Out of the Box Christmas” by Runville Charge Youth, www.runvilleumc.com