At 5 p.m., the event kicked off; at 6 p.m., the Christmas tree was lit. The warming barrels were in full blaze, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus greeting everyone, the spirit of Christmas in the air. The Community of Waynesburg came together Nov. 30 as the Holiday Open House kicked off the Christmas season.
The Open House is designed as a benefit for both the community and local small businesses, said Joanne Marshall, chairperson for Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful, the organization that planned the event. Marshall said the organization tries to bring the town of Waynesburg more together to benefit both participants and volunteers.
“We’re focusing on the businesses and the retailers downtown, bringing emphasis to them,” said Marshall. “We’re holding the event in that location to bring people to the event, then they will go into the stores and shop.”
The event is especially helpful to new local business in the area. The Dapper Doughnut, with donuts and hot chocolate for sale and sampling, lodged their table in the McMillen Photography building. Having that spot not only kept her warm, co-owner Kristen Rohanna said, but also helped her business become more involved in the community.
“I wanted to be involved with community stuff like this because it’s rare,” Rohanna said. “It’s a good promotion for us first of all and then second, we just want to get involved in community.”
Even amidst a number of small businesses closing this year, Marshall said, the Open House was still able to function. Businesses from up-town were added to fill in previous businesses’ places.
“Small businesses do have a turnover and change, so with retail businesses–and this goes for malls and any kind of strip district–you do have change,” Marshall said. “We’ve adjusted with the change. All the businesses up-town are excited to participate again.”
For many Waynesburg locals, the Open House is something they look forward to every year. Fred Kiger has led carriage rides for over 25 years, and has volunteered his two horses and wagon to the open house for many years.
“This is our pride and joy, these horses,” Kiger said. “We do a lot of events with them, and this is our best time of the year with them.”
For some, this was their first year of volunteering. Chase Patton served cotton candy for his brother, who works for the Greene County Cornerstone Genealogy Society. Patton’s father owned the cotton candy machine and donated all his cotton candy to the event. Patton said he enjoys the event for the opportunity to see old acquaintances in the community.
“[I like] seeing everyone you don’t get to see often,” Patton said. “It’s a good reason for people to go out.”
Overall, the Holiday Open House is something everyone, especially the Waynesburg citizens, Marshall said, look forward to participating and volunteering in.
“It’s a great tradition to have with family and friends, to come out as a community and celebrate the start of the holiday shopping season by lighting our Christmas tree,” Marshall said.