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Christmas in Thurmont sees record turnout

Courtney Pomeroy
Frederick News Post

(12/4) No one in Thurmont was dreaming of a white Christmas on Saturday.

Mild weather and clear skies helped draw a record crowd to the annual Christmas in Thurmont event, according to organizers.

In its ninth year, Christmas in Thurmont is a collaborative town effort. Thurmont's Main Street program, the Economic Development Committee, and town businesses and organizations come together to plan and present a day that includes Santa reading aloud and posing for pictures, refreshments, prize giveaways, a scavenger hunt and caroling.

Santa Claus, apparently a house guest of recently elected Town Commissioner John Kinnaird, said things were a little hectic for both men this year.

Kinnaird arrived to help kick off the celebration with Mayor Martin A. Burns and the rest of the commissioners, then rushed home "to get Santa out of bed," he said. "He was sleeping in. He had a rough ride down from the North Pole."

Santa also made an appearance at the town's senior center Christmas party, along with the Board of Commissioners sans Kinnaird, dressed in his fuzzy red suit.

"He was able to do it all," Burns said.

It was unclear whether he was referring to Santa or Kinnaird.

Karen Kinnaird, the commissioner's wife, said more than 150 children got their pictures taken with Santa.

Stacie Zelenka, an Economic Development Committee member and the event chairwoman, said all 200 goodie bags that were made for the event were gone by 4 p.m.

"We had an awesome turnout," she said.

John Kinnaird said more volunteers than ever before helped out, too.

Bill Gorman, a new EDC member, was one of the first-time Christmas in Thurmont volunteers.

"I'd like to see this community start to grow," he said.

Adults at the celebration received a "holiday map," which they could have stamped at participating town businesses in order to win prizes.

The increased foot traffic increased awareness of the town's independent shops, as do many Main Street and EDC events throughout the year do, Gorman said. Knowing that Thurmont does so much to promote its establishments might encourage even more to set up shop downtown, he said.

Existing businesses were a big help in putting together the event, especially the prize packages, according to Cindy McKane-Wagester, Thurmont Main Street program manager.

"This community is awesome," she said.

Children's prizes included games, toys, bikes, a Wii and an iPod. "These kids, when they win, they are just going to be out of their minds," McKane-Wagester said.

The adult prizes included a gold watch from Brown's Jewelry and Gift Store and gift cards to downtown shops.

Jody Stimmel, who lives in town, said Saturday was the third time she brought her grandson to the event.

"I think it's great that they do things for the kids," she said as she watched him get his face painted.

And for getting a picture taken with Santa, she said she likes the small-town atmosphere more than any mall.

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