Remember Charlie Brown's Christmas tree? The pitiful-looking little twig that becomes a beautiful Christmas tree with a little Christmas love and spirit?
Every year since 2009, the Springfield Farm Barn in Williamsport becomes the embodiment of that favorite story as "Charlie Brown's Christmas-Reindeers in the Rafters" is staged.
This year's Charlie Brown Christmas — Reindeer in the Rafters runs 3 to 8 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 1 and 8, Sundays, Dec. 2 and 9; and noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4. A full schedule and a virtual tour of last year's event are available on the Williamsport website (see box). Admission is free, though donations are appreciated.
It started with a chance comment as Williamsport Councilwoman Joan Knode and her daughter-in-law, Tearza Knode, were removing decorations from another event at the barn. "What if we decorated the barn for Christmas?" Joan Knode wondered. An idea was planted, but without funds the two women had to get creative to get the project off the ground.
She made a call to a local radio station asking its listeners for help.
"(I) asked for artificial trees folks might be discarding after buying new, more up-to-date kinds of trees," Joan Knode said.
They received 30 trees that first year, some missing branches and a bit bedraggled, along with donated decorations and lights. A new local tradition was born as local families, businesses and organizations of all kinds decorated the trees, turning discards into beautiful celebrations of the season.
Each year more "orphaned" trees and decorations were donated and the event grew and blossomed. This year, there are more than 80 decorated trees in the enchanting display, many trees are decorated with unique themes by groups as diverse as the Conococheague Little League and Allied Waste Management. Several Girl and Boy Scout troops, churches, families and service clubs, among others, have adopted and decorated trees.
The holiday display grows bigger each year. Up in the barn's rafters, full-sized plush reindeer ride across the sky, a 2011 donation from Meritus Health. And on the ground there is "Buster," a cuddly, all white, singing and talking life-sized bear from the Valley Mall, which was donated along with other decorations no longer being used at the mall.
In addition to viewing the trees and decorations, there are many other things to do and see during the event. Visitors can drop off their "Wish Lists" for Santa upstairs at the barn, or write special messages or prayers for a loved one and tie it on the Community Prayer Tree on the barn's stage. There's a train display by Moe's Train Room. Horse-drawn carriage rides through the beautifully lit park are offered for a small fee. "Elves" from Girl Scout Troop 40411 hand out candy canes to visitors and hot chocolate and cookies are served, compliments of the Town of Williamsport, with help from Leiter's Fine Catering.
Performances by dance and singing groups — iincluding Senior Singing Idol Jack Myers — are scheduled throughout the event. It's even rumored that a certain gentleman and his wife who normally reside at the North Pole will be visiting.
Last year, Knode said more than 7,000 visitors came to see the Christmas magic and even more are expected this year as word of the event has spread and more people and groups have decorated trees.
For organizer Knode, Charlie Brown's Christmas is a labor of love and one of her favorite things to do.
"It's like a reward at the end of the busy year," she said.
And, just like Charlie Brown's little tree, this year's display may have a little extra Christmas magic in one of the trees.
Joan Knode hoped for a donation of a white, pre-lit 8-foot tree for a special tree she could decorate with photos from the weddings held in the Springfield Farm Barn. She again called the local station on her birthday last August and shared her wish. But nothing was received and Knode began decorating another tree, thinking that perhaps her wish would be granted next year. Several people even offered to just buy her a white tree, rather than wait for a discard, but Knode told them no, because she said, "Buying one might break the spell."
Then Saturday, Nov. 24, Tearza called Knode from the barn with the exciting news. "Guess what just got dropped off!" she said.
A woman who did not want to leave her name had dropped off two trees — one, the hoped-for, white, pre-lit, 8-foot tree.
A little more Christmas love and spirit perhaps?
If you go ...
WHAT: Charlie Brown Christmas -Reindeer in the Rafters
WHEN: 3 to 8 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 1 and 8, Sundays, Dec. 2 and 9; and noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4.
WHERE: Springfield Barn Museum, 14 Springfield Lane, Williamsport.
COST: Free admission, though donations are appreciated.
CONTACT: Call 301-223-7711; 301-223-7229 or go to www.williamsportmd.org.