The Student News Site of Conestoga High School



Day 7: Holiday festivities


By Abby Chong, Sadie Chronister, Jeffrey Heng and Eshan Singh, Staff Reporters

Despite the cold weather, local communities continue to hold events, providing entertainment and activities to celebrate the holidays. St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church, the Upper Main Line YMCA, the Hardware Center in Paoli and Delaware County have all planned holiday-themed festivities in time for the winter season.

St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church holds first annual Christmas Festival

By Jeffrey Heng, Staff Reporter

As families made their way through the doors of Saint Matthew’s United Methodist Church of Valley Forge, delectable treats, captivating carols and jolly festivities filled the hallways, capturing the essence of the holiday season.

St. Matthew’s ministry opened the church’s doors on Dec. 8 to introduce its first annual Christmas Festival to the public. The event was free to all, offering a variety of delicacies from chili, hot dogs and salted pretzels to cookies and fruit punch. Director of children and family ministries Vica Jones organized the event for youth and family ministries.

“We used to do, most recently, an event that had some crafts and a live activities piece,” Jones said. “We’ve also done lessons and carols, and this event itself was bringing all these successful things together into one cohesive event.”

According to Jones, the ministry wanted to engage the congregation and community with the spirit of the holiday without overwhelming everyone’s calendars. From 5-8 p.m., guests could take pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, decorate cookies and create ornaments, luminaria bags and stained-glass crosses at various stations.

The ministry gathered a variety of people to help manage the tables, such as students from Conestoga’s Key Club. 

“We just thought it would be fun to do something holiday-themed while still volunteering and helping other people out,” senior Hirah Ashiq said.

Chesterbrook resident Milica Barna spent the evening touring activities with her daughter, who was pleased to finally meet others in the community now that the COVID-19 pandemic has dialed down.

“My son is a part of the daycare here, and I had friends that belong to the church. So they told me that (the festival) was open to the public, and we brought our whole family for the first time,” Barna said.

Jones believes that the debut of the annual Christmas festival had overwhelming success and is grateful for the turnout of attendees.

“I love everything about this (festival),” Jones said. “One of the reasons why I went into children and youth ministry is I love seeing the generations come together and just learn and grow together. It’s everything that I love about the ministry.”

Community attends annual Upper Main Line YMCA Christmas Festival

By Eshan Singh, Staff Reporter

On Dec. 9, the Upper Main Line YMCA hosted its annual Christmas Festival. Visitors toured the grounds inside and outside the YMCA, participating in activities. 

They could take photos with a reindeer, play Christmas-themed carnival games, do science and art activities, watch performances by carolers and hula hoop dancers, meet with Santa Claus and roast marshmallows.

Karen Lynds attended the festival with her son and his family for the third year in a row.

“They (my grandchildren) love every minute of it,” Lynds said. “They love the reindeer, they are not afraid of Santa and all the workers make it really nice.”

Swara Anush, a fifth grader, went to the festival for the first time and enjoyed the STEM and art activities.

“The tile-making was fun. I liked it,” Anush said. “The gumdrop-building I liked a lot because I haven’t done anything like that before and (making) the two Christmas ornaments was also pretty fun.”

According to YMCA executive director Brian Raicich, the festival’s two most popular events are seeing the reindeer and meeting Santa.

“A lot of people when they see the advertisements on our website or on Facebook, they think we have a cardboard cutout of reindeer,” Raicich said. “It’s an actual, real reindeer.”

The Christmas Festival has taken place since the early 1990s, and each year the YMCA employees who organize the event try to improve it.

“They look at what they felt worked great with the kids the year before,” Raicich said. “And then they get on Pinterest and other things to find other ideas (and) see what other activities (people) are doing and then go from there.”

This year, a new science activity was added. People learned how to perform a chemical reaction to make a substance that looks and feels like snow.

After events such as the Christmas Festival, the YMCA uses the funds raised to provide financial assistance to those who need it.

“We do not turn anyone away due to the inability to pay,” Raicich said. “And that’s what (the mission of our) financial assistance is: to make sure everyone can be here at the Y.”

The Hardware Center in Paoli hosts Santa Claus is Coming To Town event

By Sadie Chronister, Staff Reporter

On Dec. 9, the Hardware Center in Paoli hosted its annual Santa Claus is Coming to Town event. Community members gathered outside the store as they awaited the arrival of Santa. 

The store also provided activities such as petting sheep and a pony, receiving balloon art, watching a live band and eating free treats. Donations went to the Paoli Fire Company, and inside the store, attendees could buy from its holiday shop and toy store.  

“The two combined (the center and Paoli Business & Professional Association) throw this every year,” said Mike DiAndrea, sales person for the center and member of the Paoli Business & Professional Association. 

Around 11:15 a.m., Santa arrived on a Paoli Fire Company truck with a police escort, greeting many children as he went into the toy store section of the building. There, families lined up to meet him and get pictures. 

Around 12 p.m., dancers from the Betsy Daily School of Performing Arts, a local dance school, performed five holiday-themed routines.

“It was so much fun performing and seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces. It was a great way to bring the community together,” said freshman Sara Staszak, who performed as a part of Betsy Daily. 

According to DiAndrea, the overall intention for the event was to bring the community together and provide a day of happiness. 

“We hear so much of the violence and everything going on,” DiAndrea said, “and it’s just one day that everybody’s in a great mood.”

Delaware County residents celebrate 48th annual Festival of Lights

By Abby Chong, Staff Reporter

Friends and family alike gather to celebrate the holiday season under light-strewn displays at Rose Tree Park in Upper Providence Township. 

From Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, Delaware County is celebrating the 48th annual Festival of Lights. As guests walk throughout the park, they are greeted with colorfully adorned trees, intricate displays, food vendors and festive music. 

As the event has gained popularity throughout the community, it has expanded from less than 50 lit trees to more than 100. This year, with the new addition of a sidewalk in the park, the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce extended the displays to surrounding areas behind the Hunt Club, a historic building in the park. 

Carol Delucia, a Delaware County resident, has been attending the event for several years with her family. She began bringing her children when they were young and is now able to enjoy the lights with her grandchildren as well. 

“We’ve been coming every year. We brought the kids (when) they were little, and now we’re bringing the grandchildren,” Delucia said. 

Bernadette Fleming, who sometimes drives by the park, decided to visit the attraction with her husband after hearing about the event from friends. Enjoying the brightly lit trees and festive atmosphere, Fleming was amazed by the work put into decorating the park. 

“I love the colors,” Fleming said. “You step back and you start getting a little dizzy. It’s wonderful.”

For many, the festival provides an opportunity to connect with family and friends during the holiday season. 

“We’re gonna call our grandkids, and we’ll bring them here,” Fleming said. “It’s just beautiful.”

Abby Chong can be reached at [email protected].

Sadie Chronister can be reached at [email protected].

Jeffrey Heng can be reached at [email protected].

Eshan Singh can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Abby Chong
Abby Chong, Co-Sports Editor
Abby Chong is a sophomore and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. She enjoys covering sports games as well as writing sports articles. Outside of the newspaper, she plays competitive softball and participates in Conestoga's stage crew and marching band.
Sadie Chronister
Sadie Chronister, Staff Reporter
Sadie Chronister is a freshmen and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. She is excited to begin her career as a student journalist. Outside of The Spoke, Sadie enjoys dancing at Betsy Daily School of Performing Arts and attending Conestoga sports games with her friends.
Jeffrey Heng
Jeffrey Heng, Co-Opinion Editor
Jeffrey Heng is a sophomore and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. He has written news, opinion and sports articles, as well as web and sports briefs. Beyond the newsroom, he volunteers for Make Us Visible PA, which aims to integrate AAPI studies in K-12 schools, is a board member of the Asian American Culture Club, and is a profound lover of frogs, puns and salt.
Eshan Singh
Eshan Singh, Co-Copy Editor
Eshan Singh is a sophomore and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. He currently writes for the Opinion section but has previously written for the Sports section. He is also a member of the Conestoga Investment Club and Model UN.