Washington ready to ring in the holidays

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Santa Claus is coming to downtown Washington Dec. 7.


The jolly old elf and his wife, Mrs. Claus, will be among the attractions for the city’s annual Christmas celebration and parade.


“Washington is going to be magic,” said Matt Uram, member of the Washington Business District Authority and chairman of the holiday parade. “I hope people come out and enjoy it.”


The celebration will begin at 5:30 p.m. with Christmas music provided by Ron King of RKP Radio at the Washington County Courthouse on Main Street.


At 6 p.m., King will introduce Uram and authority Chairman Christopher Potts, who will then relinquish the spotlight to former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher and current radio commentator Steve Blass, who as guest of honor will turn on the lights of the courthouse Christmas tree, officially kicking off the night’s festivities. Afterward, Blass will be at the George Washington hotel on Main Street signing autographs and copies of his new book.


At 7 p.m., the holiday parade will begin, with 95 units making their way through the heart of the city.


“This will be the biggest parade we’ve had yet,” Uram explained.


Prior to and after the parade, visitors can treat themselves to warm drinks and cookies. Hot chocolate will be served at the George Washington and at Tree of Life Church while hot cider will be served at St. Paul’s AME Church beginning at 5:30 p.m. Cookies are being provided by the Washington Rotary Club.


Santa’s Toy Train Display will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. inside the hotel, which will also be the site of a new treat to the annual celebration.


At the lower entrance to the hotel, visitors can explore and buy a variety of unique handmade gifts, jewelry, home decor, art and sculpture, textiles and personal accessories representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.


According to Uram, Ten Thousand Villages provides the merchandise from artisans in 38 countries. Sale proceeds help pay for food, education, health care and housing for the artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.


Founded in 1946, the company has grown from the trunk of founder Edna Ruth Byler’s car to a network of more than 390 retail outlets throughout the United States selling Ten Thousand Villages products. It is one the world’s largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization.


The international market will also have local benefits, as 10 percent of the company’s sales in Washington will go to the Washington Senior Citizens Center, Uram explained.


The marketplace will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday, noon to after the parade Friday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.


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