Philipsburg rings in season with traditions

In Philipsburg, Christmas often starts in November.

It isn’t the day after Thanksgiving, and it has nothing to do with shopping or a great deal.

The start of Christmas is the arrival of Santa. Not when he shows up on Christmas Eve, but a little bit earlier. In 2015, Santa arrived two weeks before Thanksgiving.

He might not be the same guy who fills stockings at the houses of good Moshannon Valley kids, but he is a big part of the holidays all the same. A really big part.

A 37-and-a-half foot tall part, to be specific.

The giant painted wooden icon of the holidays was first constructed by the late Bill Adams. His continued presence has included refurbishment and a concerted effort from volunteers who believe Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without Old St. Nick, his big bag of presents and his loyal squadron of toy soldiers.

In recent years, the seasonal vignette has taken up its post at Cold Stream Dam Recreation Area by the playground.

Big Santa is about twice as tall as the White House Christmas tree.

But he isn’t the only jolly old elf who will be in the area for the holidays.

At noon on Dec. 5, the Philipsburg Christmas Parade will make its annual march up Front Street, complete with music and floats and firetrucks, all capped by the arrival of a different kind of Santa, the guy who actually “ho ho ho’s” and invites kids to tell him what they are hoping to find under the tree.

The Free Church of Gearhartville will sponsor a free movie for the community following the parade. “The Nativity Story” will be presented at the Rowland Theatre at 1 p.m.