It's a Charlie Brown Christmas in Williamsport
Gather around the trees - Charlie Brown Christmas celebrated in Williamsport
Ten years ago, a couple of Williamsport residents thought it would be nice to decorate The Barn at Springfield Farm for Christmas. After they’d gathered about a dozen trees, they decided to open the barn doors to the community.
“The following year, a friend decorated too,” said Tearza Knode, who, along with her mother-in-law Joan Knode, were in the original pair. “(Our friend) had the idea to open up the barn to civic groups, school, nonprofits, and it just kind of exploded from there. Now this year, we have about 150 trees. People come in and their jaws drop because there are so many trees.”
The 10th annual Charlie Brown Christmas event will run Saturday, Dec. 1; Sunday, Dec. 2; Friday, Dec. 7; Saturday, Dec. 8; and Sunday, Dec. 9 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, Dec. 4 and Thursday, Dec. 6 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with trees also on display representing church groups, businesses and families. In addition to the walk-through tree exhibit, the free community event also features visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a super-sized Elf on the Shelf, a train display, a horse-drawn carriage ride for $2 per person, and other attractions.
“It really brings out the community and just has the whole Christmas feel. All the organizations have a good opportunity to represent themselves in a Christmas tree,” Knode said.
The Charlie Brown name references the animated TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” based on the “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles M. Schulz in which the character Charlie Brown chooses a scant, puny tree to decorate. Though the trees of the Williamsport event are not scant or puny, they are castoff artificial trees donated by community members and given a second go-around.
A sampling of tree themes includes a white, snowman-shaped tree near the barn entrance.
“He is holding a cellphone and taking a selfie,” Knode said.
Booksavers of Maryland, rather than using an artificial version, constructed its own tree made entirely of books. A prayer tree offers visitors an option to write a prayer and add it as a chain link on the tree. The prayers will be taken to an area church where others will join in the prayers. Downsville Church of the Brethren decorates a white tree with a nativity scene tucked deep among the limbs.
“Children are enamored by it,” Knode said.
Hagerstown salon Snippin N Clippin has a tree that is half mannequin with its hair styled on top, and half white, light-up, fur skirt on the bottom. There also is a Maryland-themed tree with state flower Black-eyed Susans, Maryland Terrapin souvenirs, ornaments representing various counties, and Old Bay seasoning.
In recent years, Knode said, the event has attracted about 10,000 people. This year, early in the week before opening, its Facebook page already had 9,500 people indicating interest.
“We are estimating that if everybody who is interested brings one person with them or brings their children, we could have 18- to 20,000 people,” Knode said. “It’s unbelievable. I have a hard time getting my head around that number.”
In past years, Santa and Mrs. Claus, seated on the stage area of the barn, have been a big draw, causing congestion that makes it difficult for some visitors to see trees in that area. This year, Knode said, instead of greeting visitors at the barn, Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be at Williamsport Town Museum.
“It will be a location separate from the trees, but still part of the event and still on the barn campus,” she said.
To amuse people along the short walk from the barn to the museum, Knode said, organizers added hand-painted photo boards through which people can poke their heads to look like an elf, a gingerbread man, a caroler, or the Grinch.
Also nearby is Byron Memorial Park, which offers a drive-through lighted wonderland of holiday characters and decorations.
The indoor train display also will be different this year than in past years, as Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum volunteered to set up a nostalgic Christmas village.
“There are lots of little villages on there. People can stare into the little houses and wonder who is in there,” Knode said.
“Never in a million years,” she said, would she have guessed Charlie Brown Christmas would take off as it has.
“You go out to the parking lot and you see cars from Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina. It’s crazy,” Knode said. “It’s not promoting anything, not peddling anything. There is no soliciting. It’s just the sheer enjoyment of different representations of trees. A collective collaboration of Christmas. I guess its uniqueness is what it’s popular for.”
If You Go ...
WHAT: 10th Annual Charlie Brown Christmas
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 1; Sunday, Dec. 2; Friday, Dec. 7; Saturday, Dec. 8; and Sunday, Dec. 9 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, Dec. 4 and Thursday, Dec. 6 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: The Barn at Springfield Farm, 12 Springfield Lane, Williamsport. Venue is not heated; dress accordingly.
COST: Admission is free. Horse drawn carriage rides cost $2 per person.
CONTACT: Find 10th annual Charlie Brown Christmas on Facebook