Cumberland looking a lot like Christmas

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Downtown activities aplenty as holiday season approaches

CUMBERLAND — It’s not just beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Downtown Cumberland, it is a lot like Christmas!

With a 35-foot blue spruce tree in the center of Town Centre, decorated store front windows and illuminated building rooftops, historic downtown Cumberland evokes the memories and emotions of Christmases past. This year’s tree was donated by James and Dolores Ortiz.

“We still have quite a few activities happening between now and the end of the year,” said Ed Mullaney, Downtown Cumberland manager. “And it all starts on Friday, Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving. Our annual tree-lighting ceremony and Christmas music special is always a highlight of the year. It’s a wonderful Americana tradition.”

Holiday open houses begin at 2 p.m. that day with a Victorian Christmas Celebration at the Gordon-Roberts House, 218 Washington St. More than 18 open houses are listed on the official tree lighting brochure, with the majority of them in Town Centre during the evening hours. A brochure with the schedule of events may be picked up at most downtown businesses.

A Christmas Music Show featuring the Bishop Walsh Choir and Galla and Dan begins at 6 p.m. on the Liberty Street stage. Joanna Guy, Miss Queen State, will sing “O Holy Night” during the tree-lighting ceremony and perform Christmas songs on stage with Galla and Dan.

Preceeding the tree lighting ceremony, community members and leaders will take part in the annual Candle Light Walk. Coordinated by the Salvation Army, the walk raises money to help needy children in Allegany County during the holidays. Interested parties are encouraged to call the Salvation Army at 301-777-7600.

At 7 p.m., the entire downtown will light up when Mayor Brian Grim hits the switch and the thousands of lights from Emmanuel Episcopal Church and throughout the area light up. This year, the city is adding new holiday decorations and illuminated displays to the downtown area.

As he does every year, Santa will make his annual visit to town immediately following the tree lighting. He will make his first appearance up on the rooftop of the Cumberland Arms Apartments, followed by a grand entrance on the back of a Cumberland fire truck. Mrs. Claus will arrive on an illuminated carriage, followed by a trolley with Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Leading the parade will be 19 Apple Alley Players Rockettes who will later perform numbers from their “Radio City Christmas Extraveganza” show. Fire and Ice will host an automotive display during the tree-lighting ceremony.

Attendees for the festivities are invited to bring toys or other suitable new gifts for boys or girls up to age 15. In 2010, more than 2,000 children were the beneficiaries of the community’s generosity, with the number expected to climb this season.

Saturday marks the first Breakfast with Santa Claus of the season. This year, the jolly old elf will be enjoying breakfast at two different Downtown Cumberland locations— Windsor Hall at Town Centre catered by Café Mark and Jennifer’s Desserts on Nov. 26, Dec. 3, 10 and Queen City Creamery on Dec. 17. Advanced reservations are encouraged and may be made by calling Café Mark at 301-759-0276 and Queen City Creamery at 301-777-0011.

Saturday marks the second annual Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. The national program, designed by American Express, is dedicated to small businesses throughout the United States. Many of the Downtown Cumberland merchants are celebrating the day with specials and discounts for shoppers.

“We want to encourage shoppers to spend their money where it counts the most — locally and with small businesses,” said Patty Collison, president of the Downtown Cumberland Business Association. “For every $100 spent at one of our local businesses, $68 will stay in the community. Only $43 stays in the community when that same amount is spent at a national chain. Spend it out-of-town or online and $0 stays in the community. That’s a big difference.”

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be on hand every Friday evening, Dec. 2 through 23 at the Tree House Toy Shop, 45 Baltimore St., from 5 to 8 p.m. with Santa’s helpers, Frosty and Rudolph. Children may share their holiday wishes as well as get their picture taken with Santa. Children may also mail their letters to Santa in the Downtown Cumberland North Pole mailbox, located by the Town Centre Christmas tree. Santa will answer all letters with return addresses. Many of the downtown Cumberland stores will be extending their Friday hours until 8 p.m.

It’s Times Square South at Town Centre this New Year’s Eve at downtown Cumberland’s annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. Music will be furnished by Galla and Dan. The ball drop has become a highlight for the city and is sponsored by Main Street Maryland and the Downtown Development Commission.

For more information on downtown Cumberland events, call 301-722-5500 or visit the website