(The article was published in the News-Item Sunday December 9, 2018)
By Chris J. Grego –The News-Item
Despite bitterly cold weather, hundreds gathered in downtown Mount Carmel on Saturday for the city’s inaugural “Christmas on Oak” event, which featured a number of food and craft vendors, an hour-and-a-half historical tour of Mount Carmel and the Christmas Parade.
“Today was our first year for this event and we’re very pleased with the support we’ve received from everyone throughout the community,” said Cathy Besser, President of Mount Carmel Downtown, Inc.
Shops on the Corner
Over 200 gifts were purchased and distributed to children of needy families through monetary donations received for the event.
The Shops on the Corner, located at Fourth and Oak Streets was a gathering point for the event where children could go inside to meet Santa Claus of listen to Christmas music played outside by local Disc Jockey Tom Megosh.
Also at the same corner, local artist Al Riedel hand painted and built several life-size wooden stand-behind Christmas cutouts which passers-by had a good time sticking their heads into have their picture taken.
“This is a wonderful event and I enjoy being here. For me, it’s all about doing things to help preserve and restore the downtown history of our local communities,” said Riedel, adding that positive events like this help bring people together in a good way.
According to Besser, a number of food and craft vendors reported good sales despite the frigid weather. The Grilled Cheese Café II and God’s Chuckwagon were on hand, in addition to others.
Youth fundraisers for the Mount Carmel Area High School Marching Band and girls Sandlot Softball traveling team had tables full of fundraising available for purchase to help support their causes. The MCA band members were raising money to help fund their school’s upcoming musical production of the 1985 film Footloose.
A special table with free Christmas gifts was manned by Elmo who greeted young children and offered them each a free gift which they could pick out themselves.
The highlight of the day was the Christmas Parade featuring the Mount Carmel Area High School Marching Band, local first responders along with Santa Claus seated on the back of a fire engine.
The parade was slightly delayed and began shortly after 1 PM. However, despite the delay and cold temperatures, hundreds lined both sides of Oak Street to take it all in.
“I’m glad to see all of the people out here today enjoying themselves. I believe an event like this helps keep everyone together and the spirit of Christmas alive,” said Mount Carmel resident Mary Ann Pasterski.
© 2018 The News-Item