The spirit of Christmas in July is coming to Tamaqua, Port Carbon


July 25—Despite temperatures soaring into the 90s on Saturday and Sunday, the spirit of Christmas could be felt in both Tamaqua and Port Carbon.

Christmas Eve in Port Carbon was observed on Sunday while Christmas in July was observed in Tamaqua a day earlier.

Inside the social hall of First United Methodist Church on Washington Street in Port Carbon, Santa Claus took time out of his summer vacation to meet and talk to the children while wearing a red, white bathing suit and blue, sandals and his signature red hat.

Santa Claus, played by Rich Barkley, said it was only fitting that Sunday’s celebration took place on one of the hottest days so far this year.

“I appreciate the irony,” he said.

Barkley’s girlfriend – Desiree Devers – and Nadine Rubright coordinated the event as members of the Port Carbon Christmas Lights Committee.

Devers said the committee started in January in hopes of raising money to buy new Christmas decorations hung for the borough’s lampposts.

Devers said Christmas Eve on Sunday in July is one of many planned fundraisers, including a make-and-take program in August where adults can make Christmas decorations and take them home.

Inside the church hall, a thermostat registered 86 degrees. However, that hasn’t stopped kids from doing arts and crafts, making Christmas decorations and playing a game of pick-a-duck for prizes.

Members of the Port Carbon Police Department, Borough Fire Department and the Port Carbon Janet Eich Public Library presented keepsakes to the children.

Rubright said the warm temperatures haven’t deterred parents and grandparents who have brought children to come meet Santa.

“We’re in the Christmas spirit no matter how hot it gets,” she said.

Knox Chattin, 5, from Saint Clair, walked around enjoying a raspberry blue snow cone under the watchful eyes of his parents, Todd and Samantha Chattin.

Samantha Chattin said she grew up in Port Carbon and wanted to help the committee in any way she could in its goal to replace the borough’s old Christmas decorations.

To date, 24 new decorations have been purchased.

“It’s going to be exciting to see the decorations,” said Samantha Chattin. “They (the committee) put a lot of time and effort into bringing something nice to town for the holidays.”

Owen Buffenmyer, 1, from Port Carbon, enjoyed meeting Santa, while his mother, Melanie Buffenmyer, and grandparents William and Annette Devers, also from Port Carbon, watched his reaction and smiles.

Annette Devers said that with Sunday being one of the hottest days of the year, it’s the complete opposite of the real December Christmas, when temperatures can drop below zero at times.

“Today we’re not afraid to bundle up. We’re afraid we won’t melt going to see Santa Claus,” she joked.

On Saturday, also in bright sunshine and scorching temperatures, Santa Claus arrived at Depot Square Park in Tamaqua accompanied by some of his well-known elves and friends – Mickey and Minnie Mouse, a Minion and “Sesame Street” characters.

Dressed in his traditional red outfit but in shorts because of the heat, Santa Claus sat on a park bench with children lined up to say hello and whatever they want for Christmas, even though it’s in five month.

Aubrey Slater, from Tamaqua, was queuing for her son, Christian, 3, to sit on Santa’s lap.

Although many parents and children attended, Slater said attendance would have been better had the temperatures been more tolerable.

“I don’t think we’re going to stay long, it’s too hot,” she said. “It’s a very good idea if it weren’t so hot.”

In Tamaqua, the festivities began with music and a vendor fair at Hope & Coffee on Pine Street. Later that morning, the Tamaqua Public Library opened for children to enjoy children’s stories read by Frosty the Snowman.

Other highlights of the day were a display and demonstrations of old toys presented by Patrick M. “Porcupine Pat” McKinney of the Schuylkill Conservation District; fire engine; children’s health information from St. Luke’s University Health Network; and games and makeup.

Additionally, a Victorian Tea Party was held at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Mauch Chunk Street and It Takes Two offered a free concert at the historic Tamaqua Railway Station.

The Tamaqua Historical Society opened its museum and annex on West Broad Street, and various food vendors were on hand selling items ranging from barbecue and gyros to pizza and pierogies.

Finally, the day-long festivities culminated with a Christmas service in July at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on North Greenwood Street.

Christmas in July has a long history that is said to have started at a summer camp in 1933. Keystone Camp in Brevard, North Carolina decided to dedicate two days, July 24 and 25, to the holidays. The celebration unfolded with fake cotton snow, a decorated Christmas tree, gift exchange and visits from Santa.


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