Funkstown to celebrate Olde Tyme Christmas
Funkstown will come alive with holiday cheer on Friday, Dec. 6, with its traditional small-town celebration at Funkstown Olde Tyme Christmas.
The event features shops open throughout town, activities at Funkstown Town Hall and Funkstown Community Park, dinner at the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co., a house decorating contest and more.
Funkstown residents Rich and Rose Gaver have served as the events co-chairman and -woman for “20ish years,” according to Rich Gaver.
“In a nutshell, this is a family event because we have something for pretty much everybody,” he said. “We have pony rides, wagon rides, craft shows, food, Santa Claus.”
The wagon ride begins outside of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on East Baltimore Street. For about 15 minutes, it travels around town, through the town park and back to the church. The town passes out luminary bags to each business and residence prior to the event. Many are lit up in celebration.
“We like to point out historical sites in town like the Chaney House, the fire hall and the cemetery,” Gaver said. “We usually have a covered wagon. This year it might be open, but they are calling for good weather so it should not be an issue.”
More than 3,000 people typically attend the annual event.
“Attendance has a lot to do with most everything being free,” he said. “The wagon ride is free, the pony rides are free. At the park, the Scouts pass out hot dogs and marshmallows for free. You can come to this event and not spend a whole lot of money and still have a lot of fun.”
At Funkstown Town Hall — a small, refurbished, red brick church building — there will be cookies and punch and “dollar a piece” raffle items.
The Funkstown Recipe Book will be for sale, with recipes like “Mrs. Snodderly’s Red Velvet Cake” as well as the Fire Departments’ primer on how to roast 400 pieces of chicken. Winners will be announced for the children’s ornament contest. Kids ages 12 and younger enter their creations at Town Hall and judges pick the best three. At 7 p.m., Santa Claus will arrive to meet up with little ones and listen to Christmas wishes.
There will be commemorative Christmas bulbs for sale featuring historic sites in Funkstown. Each year, a local artist creates an image for the ornaments.
“Each one is different for 19 years. We’ve been doing it for 19 years now,” Gaver said.This year highlights the Funkstown American Legion circa 1947 to 1967.
“Now, it is an apartment building,” Gaver said. “Back in ‘67, the building burned down. They moved the Legion to a new location and that building became apartments.”
Area pageant winners will be on hand serving as judges for the house Christmas decorating contest. Judging will include consideration of how well the “olde tyme” theme is incorporated.
“We have three different categories this year,” Gaver said. “Best door or window, because a lot of our houses don’t have front yards, best yard or porch display, and best overall house.”
Each winner will receive $50.
Money to fund the Olde Tyme Christmas event comes from the Washington County Hotel Motel Tax Fund. It is allocated to local municipalities and designated for local projects through the Hagerstown and Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Gaver said the money is meant to help increase tourism in Washington County, and at Olde Tyme Christmas, he sees evidence of that happening.
“We had a family of two who came to the event from Gaithersburg ten years ago. They have grown to a family of 20 that comes every year. The first two loved it and invited more and more,” Gaver said. “They heard about it on a Washington County tourism site and said ‘Let’s try that out.’”
Visitors are attracted to the small shops in town, such as Guten Tag, The Vintage Attic, Blue Mountain Wine Crafters and others.
“It’s a small town with small shops, antiques, the hair cutting place. You don’t get to see all those little types of shops anymore,” Gaver said. “(A lot of) them have dried up.”
For visitors who go to the event hungry, Gaver said the fire department will offer hot roast beef, gravy and French fries with apple dumplings for dessert. St. Paul’s will have soup and sandwiches in the social hall along with their multi-vendor craft fair. There will be seasonal music in the sanctuary.
Boy Scout Troop 23 and Cub Scout Pack 23 of Funkstown will keep a yule log campfire crackling at the park, along with sticks and free marshmallows for roasting.
“They like to give back to the community,” Gaver said.
Pony rides also take place in the park. There will be an encampment and some of the Scouts will spend the night.
Top photo: Santa Claus will make his annual appearance at Funkstown’s Old Tyme Christmas. (Submitted photo)