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Westmoreland spreads holiday cheer with fa-la-la-la-festivals

Posted on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 11:20 am

spiritkidtrain3(2)spiritfesttreeThere was a nip in the air, with temps dipping into the 40s on Friday, but Montross town folks rang in the Christmas spirit in a true Village style that Norman Rockwell surely would have wanted to capture on canvas, had he been there.
Local shops welcomed visitors galore with cookies, brownies, punch, smiles and more, not to mention many holiday sales.
Annie Claus served hot dogs and popcorn at the Bank of Lancaster while greeting little ones and sharing cheer.
Santa’s holiday spread was more traditional at Peoples Community Bank with his favorites, cookies an punch.
Montross Library featured story telling by local favorites like Town Manager Trish Lewis and Mayor Joey King.
The Westmoreland County Museum featured handmade Christmas exhibits and served punch and cupcakes.
Things heated up at the Wakefield Building with hot cider and cookies served beside an awe inspiring train display, featuring the Polar Express.
Kids and adults felt a sense of holiday cheer and joy watching the HO trains circle the tiny town in all it’s Christmas glory, compliments of Carolyn and Andrew Rander.
Carolyn a retired teacher and her husband Andrew love building little model train sets. The huge display set up at the Wakefield building features many of the houses that Carolyn designed. “Andrew’s displays are too big to transport.” she said. The couple is adding on to their house to accommodate more trains and to avoid going up and down stairs.
Carolyn spent most of her life teaching at Liberty University in Lynchburg Va. Andrew is retired from the Electric company. The couple has been involved in running a ministry for most of their lives and are still active in ministry. Carolyn and Andrew enjoy their grandchildren now during their retirement and continue their passion for model trains.
The Rander’s who have been married for over 50 years built a life size replica of a West Virginia Train Station in their back yard. They don’t run trains in the back yard, the buildings are used for tractor storage and such.
Mayor King welcomed the crowd and recognized the Westmoreland Volunteer Fire Department who sets up the Christmas tree and lights and everyone behind the scene who helps organize the Spirit Festival. “The businesses are awesome, the town if vibrant and it’s so good to see everyone out tonight. This is your town, this is your Christmas program. Merry Christmas to everyone.”
Barbara Jean Jones and Samantha Sisson read the names of people who were remembered or honored by family, by sponsoring a Christmas light on the tree. Proceeds benefit the Volunteer Fire Department. On behalf of the WVFD Auxilliary, Jones thanked all those who sponsored lights, Billy Sydnor and his elves for putting on the lights and everyone who came out to kick off the spirit of Christmas.
“Christmas is a beautiful time of the year and it is wonderful to be out and see the lights.”
After the names were read Kelsey Henry read the story of Christmas and the Siloam Youth Church Choir sang Christmas Carols.
The music continued at the Art of Coffee, where Montross Middle and W&L students played and sang Christmas music.
Holiday Bingo was held at the Westmoreland Volunteer Fire Department and stores like Carrott Cottage, Diane Jackson Art Studio and Gallery and Bridget’s Bouquets continued to provide goodies and discounts the entire weekend.

Linda Farneth is a Westmoreland News reporter.

winterfest01 winterfest02A strong wind and chilly temperatures greeted the young, and young at heart, on Saturday for the annual WinterFest and Santa’s Wonderland and parade in Colonial Beach.
With the town hill decorated by Bob and Jan Swink and their crew of volunteers, the Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event. Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrived on a sleigh pulled by a hot rod truck to take pictures with the gathered children.
Santa’s house on the hill hosted Bobby Hooker, of Hooker’s Studios, taking pictures with Santa, children, adults and at least one adorable puppy. While the kids waited for their turn the hill hosted a number of activities.
Children delighted in glittering up pine cones, making wreaths, or decorating snowmen at the decorations table. With the breeze, glitter floated about, making not only the pine cones shine, but also many a child’s coat.
Katie Pitts was one of the volunteers at the decorate a cookie table. Children were given a cookie, icing, and various sprinkles, marshmallows and other things to embellish their cookies with. The cookies were quickly consumed with many a small face covered in green or red icing.
Hay rides and pony rides were also available. Children placed their parent in line to hold their turn for the adorable brown and white ponies who each wore a Santa’s hat. The hay wagon cue moved quickly as they piled aboard the wagon for a trip around the town hill.
Bikes donated by Bob and Jan Swink and Pete and Sandy Bone were raffled off as well as a 50/50 raffle.
The town’s Christmas Tree was lit late in the afternoon followed by the annual boat parade hosted by the Colonial Yacht Center.
Seven lighted boats took their trip for the Yacht Center, passed the town pier, and back, to the delight of 20 or so brave souls on the pier and numerous people in cars along the shoreline. As the sun went down, the wind kicked up and the temperature plummeted.
Those on the boats seemed to have a little help staying warm as they cruised through the moderate waves and whipping wind.
This year brought the boats closer to the Municipal pier than in year’s past which made for a very happy crowd gathered there.
Many volunteers, too numerous to list, work together to put on the WinterFest, Santa’s Wonderland and parade every year. Members of the Chamber of Commerce, and their friends, work diligently to give the children of Colonial Beach a mainly free event. Only pictures, at five dollars each, and refreshments, cost anything. All of the activities were paid for by the chamber.

Suzy Pietras-Smith is a Westmoreland News contributor.