State College

Speeder car spirits visitors around Lemont Christmas Market

CDT photo

The sound of the engine overpowered the sound of the rain that pinged off the windows of Cody Martin’s speeder car Saturday.

For about three minutes, guests at the sixth annual Lemont Christmas Market were able to keep warm — and dry — in the cab during a ride on the railroad tracks through the village.

Martin’s family bought the heated car about a year ago, after finding interest in little locomotives.

Martin said the speederis powered by gas and takes three levers to control.

“We’ve been doing rides in places around West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, but mainly stay in the state,” Martin said.

Martin, of Milesburg, was 15 when he acquired two speeders, and he had to wait about six months before he could drive them legally.

“I had to wait until I got my license, so I was getting a little anxious,” Martin, now 16, said. “A few years ago, me and my dad took a ride on one and I got pretty interested in them.”

Last year, committee members from the Lemont Village Association approached Martin to bring the speeders to the Lemont Christmas Market, but a conflict prevented him from doing so.

This year, he found the time.

By noon Saturday, the decorated, Christmas-themed cab escorted about 60 guests. It was a steady crowd the rest of the day, he said.

Martin, dressed in an elf’s hat, took up to four people at a time on a half-mile trip from the Granary, through the woods and back.

Along the tracks were signs that said “Reindeer Crossing” and Grinch’s Lair,” with a cutout of the Grinch placed behind a tree.

The speeder used was built in 1979 by Fairmont Railway Motors in Minnesota, Martin said.

The fastest he’s been able to drive the car was about 40 mph, but he thinks it goes faster.

The rides were the most popular attraction at the market, said Lemont Village Association Chairwoman Sue Smith, who helped coordinate the event.

Money raised through the rides will benefit the Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society, Martin said.

Other money raised through the event will go toward the association’s fund to maintain the Granary.

Smith said the next project it to build a bandstand outside of the Granary that will look like a gazebo.

Each year, the event brings in about $1,000 and more than 300 guests. That was no exception this year despite the cold and rainy weather.

The German-style “Weihnachtsmarkt” was started by Smith’s daughter, Penny Eifrig, and her husband, Chris Eifrig, a native of Germany.

Smith said bratwurst and gluhwein were among the food and drinks being offered, along with 18 craft vendors.

“It’s particularly German, because we bring a holiday event outside and offer German food, and arts and crafts,” Smith said. “In Germany they might have it under tents; here we hold it in here (in the Granary).”

The planning took about three to four months, said organizer Amanda Kunkel.

“This year we added more musicians and tried to get as many vendors as possible,” Kunkel said.

Sebastian Rauch played the keyboard at the entrance to the Granary. Other musicians included guitarists, a brass band and the flute choir from State College Area High School.

“It’s one of those nice local events that brings in a lot of the neighbors,” Kunkel said.

Mary Jo Kohler lives right behind the Granary.

On Saturday, she walked over to the Granary and put together her stand that included painted holiday-themed birdhouses and ornaments.

It’s been a hobby for Kohler for about four years. Her most popular items are the Victorian painted houses.

“Everyone here has the perfect, personalized gift for the holidays,” Kohler said.