Holiday spirit thrives in downtown State College

Caelyn Simpson, 3, of Bellefonte, sleds down the ice slide in Sidney Friedman Park in 2014.
Caelyn Simpson, 3, of Bellefonte, sleds down the ice slide in Sidney Friedman Park in 2014. Centre Daily Times, file

A holiday classic comes to life each holiday season, transporting children (and adults) aboard the Polar Express.

For about 15 years, Schlow Centre Region Library has ushered in the Christmas season with readings of “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg.

Families are then transported by trolley through downtown, ending up at Santa’s Workshop, said Paula Bannon, children’s librarian at Schlow.

Santa’s Workshop, located in the State College Municipal Building, is organized by the Downtown State College Improvement District, Bannon said.

Children have the opportunity to meet Santa and take home a gift, she said.

“It’s a family tradition for State College,” Bannon said.

Fast-forward to the end of the month and it’s time to celebrate the new year.

First Night State College, a celebration put together by the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, has been around for more than 20 years. And there’s something for everyone.

Walk through a winter wonderland of ice sculptures, participate in the 5K Resolution Run, take a carriage ride or hit up some of the performances.

Rick Bryant, executive director, said the “community has embraced it.”

It’s a still a small-town event, but it’s a big small-town event, he said.

Bryant said people enjoy looking at the resolution sculptures and looking at the ice sculptures.

“We’re very grateful people like what we do,” he said.

First Night buttons are available for $10 — which covers the general admission cost to most performances and workshops.

Children 12 and younger do not need a button if they are accompanied by an adult who has one.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz

Downtown State College holiday events

Polar Express

When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 3 and 10; 2-4:20 p.m. Dec. 4 and 11

Where: Schlow Centre Region Library, 211 S. Allen St., State College

Info: 237-6236, www.schlowlibrary.org/news/ 2016-07-13/polar-express-2016-pre-registration

First Night

When: Dec. 31

Where: downtown State College

Info: 237-3682, firstnightstatecollege.com/