“O Come, All Ye Faithful” was one of the first songs aired through a speaker in front of the Centre County Courthouse on Saturday morning in an area that turned into a Victorian winter wonderland.
The music could be heard through downtown Bellefonte on the second day of Bellefonte Victorian Christmas.
Bellefonte resident Mary Jo Wright was locked hand-in-hand with her two grandsons from Hollidaysburg — Braden Miller, 6, and Tyler Miller, 7 — while she sang along to the Christmas songs being played through the radio, as loud as she could, in an attempt to embarrass them.
It was just a joke, but it worked, as Tyler pulled on her arm, and urged her to stop.
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She laughed, and encouraged them to sing along with her.
The three were on their way to see Santa at the Santa House, set at the diamond outside of the courthouse. The Santa House was about the size of a small shed, and painted green, with red windows and doors.
Inside, Santa, otherwise known as Dave Fritts, sat in a chair and welcomed local youth.
He arrived in Bellefonte around 11:45 a.m. where he immediately met with about two dozen children and their families.
“We got a good crowd,” Fritts said.
Most requests he received were for toys.
Colby Jordan, 7, on the other hand, asked for a tent and sleeping bag so he could go camping with his family next summer.
Emma Sorrell, 7, of Altoona, said she asked for a tablet.
Her mother, Shelly Sorrell, said this was their first year attending Bellefonte Victorian Christmas, with friend Ryan Heltman and his son Landon, 3, of Centre Hall.
“It’s just one of those nice local holiday events we wanted to check out,” Sorrell said.
Bellefonte Victorian Christmas was started 34 years ago by the downtown merchant community to help bring people to Bellefonte and celebrate its history, said Sally Houser, who coordinates the holiday event.
Members of Living Hope Alliance church, 321 E. Howard St., were selling cookies and handing out hot chocolate to people who were exiting a shuttle bus in front of the square.
Five men dressed as Civil War artillery re-enactors were stationed in the grass of Bellefonte Square at the courthouse.
They were part of the Thompson’s Independent Battery C group that made its way to the event for a one-day presentation that showed replica guns and ammunition used in war during the Victorian era, said member Gary Hoover, executive director of Bellefonte Intervalley Area Chamber of Commerce.
Down the street at the Brockerhoff House, carriage rides were being offered.
By about 1 p.m., all reservations for the day were sold out.
“They’re usually pretty popular,” said Linda Hershey, of Lasting Moments Carriage Service through Spring Mount Farms in Warriors Mark. “This is the first year we’re able to offer our services all three days.”
About every eight minutes, a carriage took patrons on a trip though Bellefonte.
This year, Hershey said they brought one carriage with four Percheron horses — Rex, Rico, Vegas and Valentino.
Two horses at a time led the carriages rides.
“It’s a chilly one so we want to make sure they’re not getting too tired,” Hershey said.
Every child who took a carriage ride received “magical reindeer feed” to bring home.
“You leave cookies at Christmas for Santa, but here’s something to leave the reindeer,” Hershey told Micah Carson, 5, who took a ride on the carriage with his mom, Susanne.
The feed was made from a mixture of nuts.
Other events included a children’s breakfast with Santa, the Festival of Trees, an arts and crafts sale, Victorian house tours and a performance of “A Christmas Carol” at the Bellefonte Area High School auditorium.