POTTSTOWN PA – Summer Hanley climbed atop Santa’s lap Saturday (Nov. 22, 2008) at the annual Holiday Festival in Ringing Rocks Elementary School, and asked him to bring her new outfits for her baby dolls this Christmas. Hanley, the daughter of Tracey and Jamie Hanley of Maugers Mills Road, said she was 5 years old … but then thought twice and corrected herself.
“I just turned 6,” she said proudly. Santa, who knows if Summer’s been good this year, probably knew that too.
Lots of children kept the world’s largest elf busy during the event at the school, 1401 Kauffman Rd., while their parents, other relatives and friends shopped for inexpensive crafts and gifts there. The day-long festival that signals the start of the holiday season for Ringing Rocks students is a tradition staged by the Parent-Teacher Organization.
PTO representatives Kerry Chadderton and Dena Kraichley estimated that between 300 and 400 people attended the festival this year. They might have hoped for more, they said, but even with economy in turmoil visitors were buying items from the 19 vendors stationed in the school’s gym. All proceeds from the event are used by the PTO to purchase equipment and computer software that couldn’t be afforded in the Pottsgrove School District budget.
Besides, Kraichley added, it gives kids a chance to get into the holiday spirit.
Evidence of Christmas cheer could be found down almost every school hallway. In one room Douglas Scott, age 6; his sister Tori, 12; and companions Dominique Clayton, 12, and Kaiya Whealton, 5, were busy decorating red felt elf hats with white glue and glitter. The youngsters weren’t alone: two adults squatted at the same table, adding touches to hats of their own.
In an adjacent passage were several games. Kids tossed balls, threw beanbags and fished for small toys with pole, string and clothes pins. While the games might have been fun, the food was as big an attraction for Jeremy and James Thompson, the sons of Jerry and Michelle Thompson of Glendale Avenue, and Eric Spanos, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jason Spanos of Maugers Mill Road. The three enjoyed soft pretzels and sodas from a snack bar in the nearby cafeteria.
Practical crafts – those that served double duty as both household decoration and useful tool – seemed to be the items vendors were selling most. Joyce Weand of Pottstown offered all natural cotton reusable shopping bags, adorned with logos or more often plain, as “BareBags.” Gloria Hueber of Yerger Road lifted a mallet toward a photographer and then smiled; “you use it to break in a baseball glove,” she said, not to ward off errant reindeer. She had husband Mike were selling other wooden toys too.
And Robbie Harper of Phoenixville divided her time between selling knitted goods and knitting more. “It keeps me out of trouble,” she said of her business, called Creative Clutter.
More than 30 PTO volunteers worked over several weeks to plan for and help visitors enjoy festival activities.