By David Noss
LEONARDTOWN, Md. - Thousands of local citizens gathered in Leonardtown on Friday night for the annual Christmas on the Square and Tree lighting. The event was sponsored by the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department, the Leonardtown Business Association, and the Commissioners of Leonardtown.
The festivities officially commenced at 5:00 p.m. As dusk fell onto the town square, street lamps and local shops lighted the thoroughfare. The town began to come alive as the streets filled with people; entertainers took to the stage; and horse-drawn carriages and wagons paced the streets carrying their passengers to and fro. Costumed characters from an era long gone could be seen wandering the street in their elegant evening dress. Food and drink were available everywhere with the proceeds from many sales going to local charities.
When the children werent being mesmerized by the onstage performers, they could find joy by having their faces painted, petting the live farm animals at the petting zoo, or riding on one of the many horse or tractor-drawn rides. Parents did not need to worry about keeping their children occupied on this night.
Several groups performed a variety of acts that entertained the large audience as they patiently awaited Santas arrival at 7 p.m.
The show began with Becky Norris performing Christmas Carols. The Drum Point Barbershop Quartet then pleased the crowd with their four-part harmony. Donna Jordans Body Shakers moved the crowd followed by a quartet of hand bell ringers from the Good Samaritan Presbyterian Church. Young, costume-clad, singers from the Chopticon High School Peace Pipers captivated many with their bold performance.
The final act before Santas arrival was undertaken by Gracies Guys and Gals Dance Troupe. Several young dance teams performed several numbers, accompanied by costumed winter characters such as a snowman and a reindeer. The youngest members of the audience were clearly mesmerized throughout all of the dance numbers.
Shortly after the dancers left the stage, the evenings Emcee asked the very large crowd to clear the streets to make way for the parade and the imminent arrival of Santa. Not wishing to end up on Santas whos been naughty list, there was little objection from any of the children.
The loud sirens pierced the night air as the bold lights from the fire engines lighted up the night sky. The time was herethe parade was starting and Santa was soon to follow. As the various fire engines and parade exhibits made their way through the square, the Emcee enlightened the crowd as to their purpose and history. The children were no doubt focused on the bright lights and the thunderous rumble from the large diesel engines.
Finally, a large white and red figure made his way down the street atop a big red fire engine
but alas, it was just Sparky the Fire Fighting Dog. Surely Santa was not far behind?
Indeed, not far behind, atop a large tractor-driven sleigh, came Santa to the joy of the many small children who had waited patiently for two hours for his arrival. The crowd was so large and tightly packed that a team of policemen and firefighters had to clear a path for Santa so he could make his way to the Christmas tree on the square where the Mayor was waiting for him.
Santa made it to the tree and greeted the crowd with exuberance. Now, his task was to officially light the tree and brighten the square for the holiday season. With a style that would have made the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders proud, he asked the audience if they were ready to light the tree. It was not until the third attempt that he received a sufficient response to cause him to throw the switch.
His official responsibilities now properly disposed of, it was time to cross the street and assume his thrown. A line of children had already formed that spanned the entire length of the block. It was going to be a long night for old Saint Nick. But fear not, Santa was in especially good cheer and managed to coax a smile out of all of his small fans.
As Santa performed his magic, and the crowd started to thin, the guitar virtuosos from the College of Southern Marylands Guitar Club, along with guest vocalists, performed acoustic Christmas music in the background as the night started to wind down.
The night was a perfect example of a community in action during the holiday season. Thousands of citizens joined together to celebrate the Christmas season and a negative word was not to be heard. Accommodations and entertainment were provided by various community groups, farmers, businesses, and citizens without regard to profit. A good time was had by all and to all a good night.