Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa Comes To Severna Park
By Rochelle Karina
Oh the weather outside was Delightful! Though it was a bit chilly, the night of the Severna Park Holiday Tree lighting was otherwise pleasant with no wind and no rain to mar the annual tradition.
The evening kicked off promptly at 5:00pm with Michael Binnie on the bagpipes. The entertainment continued with performances from the Severna Park Elementary School Chorus and Maryland Performing Arts Center dancers. Over in the Chamber meeting room, folks lined up for refreshments courtesy of Brownie Troupe 292. The girls were joined by Troops 1724, 2092, 1903, 537 and 1295.
This is our meeting space, explained co-leader Kristi Parsons, and our first time helping out. I think its going well.
Next door, folks were lining up to see the Severna Park Model Railroad Club display, and back outside, the crowd was five and six deep to watch the performers on stage.
Its terrific to see all the smiling faces, exclaimed Mike Whittles of ServPro, Not just on the little ones, but on the adults as well!
There were lots of smiling faces to be seen as the community gathered to watch the tree lighting, enjoy holiday entertainment and socialize with friends and neighbors.
Its another great kick off for the holiday season in Severna Park, said Linda Zahn, CEO of the GSPCC, Wed like to thank the community for coming out. Just like the Fourth of July Parade in summer, this is the significant event for winter.
The festivities didnt end at the tree lighting, because just around the corner the merchants of Park Plaza were hosting Santa himself. The Severna Park High School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Thomas R. Powell, delivered a steady stream of jazzed-up holiday tunes while a troupe of elves readied the road for the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Local merchants stayed open late, many offering special sales or holiday gatherings in their stores.
Part of the fun is the tradition, explained Jeff Franklin of Franklin Toys. Weve been in the Plaza since 1985 and this is the best annual event Its fun to see everyone from the community, to listen to the choirs perform. The event brings out the community spirit.
Outside the stores, lined up along the front lane of the center, families with children waited for Santa. They werent disappointed, pulling up in a white carriage, drawn by a white horse, Santa and the Mrs. arrived at Park Plaza in style. They paused outside for a few hugs and waves to waiting children before heading in to start sitting for photos and listening to Christmas wishes.
Were here for Santa, of course! exclaimed Jen Burlson, and to enjoy the holiday season. Burlson, a Severna Park native, had brought her daughter Isabella out to get a picture with Santa, and a ride in the carriage.
The children werent the only ones waiting for Santa, close to the front of the line were two Chihuahuas, whose Christmas list was simple, A big bone!
Outside in the parking lot, another line of families stood patiently waiting for a sleigh ride. The elves were manning Santas beautiful white carriage, taking families for a jaunt around the lot, and the kids were eager to enjoy their special ride in Santas sleigh.
Inside Side Street Framers, the mood was more festive with holiday décor, plenty of treats and groups of happy people filling the shop with good cheer. Owner Barbara Daniels is a little shy to talk about it, but shes the one responsible for bringing Santa to Park Plaza for all these years.
It just made sense, Daniels explained when asked about the event she coordinates. This is the largest shopping center in Severna Park. Looking back, Daniels remembered how it all started.
The men of the Severna Park Chamber of Commerce posed as Santa and the event went on for a week. Each night a different man played Santa and over the years, the event changed, of course.
Eventually, thanks to the help of what Daniels calls a wonderful property manager, the event grew to what it is today, a one-night extravaganza of holiday cheer that is totally free to the community.
I remember the excitement of the first year, Daniels recalls. It snowed, just a little, and I just started crying, it was so beautiful. And now, Santa and Mrs. Claus are just gorgeous!
Looking around the crowd, the happy faces, the ruddy cheeks, the puffs of breath showing in the cold as excited children shout with glee, its easy to see how the event could move someone to tears of joy.
Its Christmas in Severna Park, and its beautiful!