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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

| Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006

The visuals and activities of the Christmas season will happen in the area this month with light-up nights, parades and events.

In Connellsville, the annual Christmas Parade and "Light-up Night" will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The parade route will begin at New Haven Hose Company volunteer fire department and will continue along Crawford Avenue, over the bridge, a left at Brimstone Corner onto Pittsburgh Street, another left onto Apple Street, ending at the Connellsville City Fire Station.

Area fire departments are invited to participate in the parade. The Connellsville Area High School Marching Band and more groups are expected to participate.

John Truxel, chairman of the parade and light-up night, said the Christmas lights will be activated around the city halfway through the parade. Fireworks will take place after the parade.

New Haven Hose firefighters will be "passing the boot" for donations to help with Christmas light expenses. Boy Scouts will be in the parade near the Christmas float to accept nonperishable food items the fire company is asking the public to donate; the fire company is working with the Salvation Army and its need for new toys or games, which spectators are asked to bring to the parade.

"They (the Salvation Army) said they have 500 to 600 kids signed up for toys, and they asked us to give them a hand," Truxel said.

Collection points have been set up for donations at the Connellsville Moose Club along Apple Street, The Connellsville Fire Station and the New Haven Hose Company on the West Side. For more information, contact Truxel daily at 724-628-8300.

Hours before the parade, the Professional Retail Division of the Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce will present its annual Christmas in the Park from 1 to 4 p.m. at East Park.

Depending on the weather, about 400 children have attended the free event in past years to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, where they can have their pictures taken with the duo for $2. The proceeds benefit the chamber.

"Santa and Mrs. Claus are the biggest attraction," said Lori Kaczmarek, of Armstrong Cable and the chamber's Professional Retail Division.

There will be free treats and hot cocoa for the children, treat bags donated by local businesses, karaoke, sleigh rides and a craft activity for the children; hot dogs and drinks will be available for purchase. Santa's helpers will be available.

"People come back every year to donate their time," Chamber President Nancy Henry said. "This is a really good event for historic East Park."

The event will be held rain or shine; for more information, call 724-628-5500.

In Uniontown, the annual "Downtown Light-Up Night" will begin with a fireworks display at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Sponsored by the Fayette Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Center Associates and the Uniontown Downtown Business District Authority, the parade will follow the fireworks and will proceed through the downtown area, starting at the Fayette County Courthouse and ending at the VFW Post 47 hall on West Main Street.

Santa Claus will ride on a fire truck and will be available for free pictures at Storey Square after the parade; in Eberly Square after the parade, Uniontown Mayor James Sileo will light the downtown Christmas tree.

Free hot chocolate will be served throughout the town during the event; several choirs from local churches and schools will perform in different areas downtown; bands will perform; and children's activities will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Many stores will offer specials and discounts and will have extended hours that evening; fliers will be distributed to highlight participating businesses and organizations.

For more information, call 724-430-2926 or 724-437-4571.

The Hopwood Village Project will hold its fifth annual "Light-Up Night" from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, where the lighting of the community tree will take place along the National Road at Dr. Bigham's office.

Other activities will take place at the Hopwood VFD Social Hall, where Santa and Mrs. Claus will hand out treats to children.

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