Heart of the Holidays event to bring Christmas spirit to York; organizer excited for community to come together

YORK – “Life is short and taking care of one another is what we are here to do. That’s what life is all about,” says Nancy Davidson. “Giving it your best and then seeing what you can do, that’s exciting and wonderful. And in the end, the community benefits from all the hard work. And I think we all long for the Christmas spirit, to share it together. So that’s what this Heart of the Holidays Festival is all about.”

Last year, Davidson and a handful of individuals decided they wanted to create a special day of just that – Christmas spirit – for the entire community to enjoy. It was a huge success. Estimates are that 2,500 people attended the many events/attractions they provided with the help of local sponsors and volunteers.

And this year, they are going to do it again.

When December 10 arrives, the York community will be full of Christmas spirit as the second annual Heart of the Holidays Festival gets underway.

The event will be held from 1-5 p.m., at the historical York City Auditorium.

What to expect? Here is a line-up:

  • Santa will arrive on a York fire truck, escorted by the York Police Department. As soon as The Big Guy is here, kids can start having their pictures taken with him.
  • There will be ice skating available for the entire family. The rink will be available until 8 p.m.
  • A giant human snow globe will actually exist – and you can take photos inside!
  • People can make delicious S’Mores at S’Moresville.
  • There will be a Nativity Walk, sponsored by Emmanuel Lutheran Church.
  • Santa’s reindeers will be there again, just like last year.
  • The downtown can be explored with horse-drawn carriage rides.
  • There will be crafts, cookie decorating, food trucks, carolers, hot chocolate, cider, games, children’s books.
  • Attendees can create stuffed animals.
  • There will be the creation of reindeer food and making balloons.
  • It will include a Christmas movie, dancing, music, puppet shows.
  • There will be a snowball fight. Not kidding.
  • A balloon drop is a must. And it will happen at 4:45 p.m., in the main room of the auditorium.
  • There will be caricature drawings available, to capture your Christmas memories.

And when all is said and done, a Christmas lights parade will start at 5:15 p.m.

“I love Christmas and this town,” Davidson said. “We wanted to do something to celebrate Christmas and just wrote down a list of everything we would ever want in a Christmas festival. That’s where we started.”

The list was long and Davidson said she realized many thought most of those details were outlandishly impossible to achieve.

“But I know when I’m on the right track if people laugh when they first hear my crazy ideas,” Davidson said, laughing herself. “They laugh because they think pulling off some of these things is inconceivable. Kind of like our helicopter Easter Egg Drop. When it was over, we all just looked at each other and said, ‘Did we literally just get that to happen?’”

Davidson has also worked on many community-based events, like the Egg Drop. She is also well known for her large and very creative seasonal displays outside her family’s business in York.

But this Christmas festival is the biggest undertaking of them all, she said.

“Last year, the community really got behind us,” Davidson said. “We realized the community was ready for a celebration like this.”

They will be repeating the popular events they featured last year and adding a few new for 2023.

She explained how Smores’ville will include people getting packets of Smores-making ingredients and they’ve created “super safe custom fire pits” where people can make their own.

They will also have a Whoville area complete with Grinch, teasing kids and adults alike.

“And then there will be the light parade,” Davidson said. “This is the first year for this.”

The parade will be open to everyone, she said – people can make floats if they want, they can go all out or keep it super simple. “They can just put a set of antlers on their head, drive their car down the street and wave. We don’t care. I want everyone to be able to participate. It will be a small route, for safety purposes, to do it our first time. We met with the city administrator, the public works department and the police department to determine what would be the best route. This being our first year, we wanted to keep it near the auditorium. We will give it a shot and maybe enlarge it next year. Even with the construction nearby, we will figure out a fun route that will be good for everyone.”

Davidson’s enthusiasm about the event is clear and obvious. Why is she so motivated to take on these types of monstrous community holiday events?

“I try to live my live my absolute best life I can and this makes me happy, to see others be happy,” Davidson said. “And it is incredible the number of businesses and individuals and organizations who want to do the same. Everyone benefits from hard work and these projects bring us all together. These types of projects help us have a happy life. Each year we have this, we see things evolve.  And the more we do this, the more unintentional wonderful consequences we will have.”

She encourages everyone to attend Dec. 10 and take part in the many offerings for all ages.

“We are going to have Christmas spirit in York!” she says, with great enthusiasm. “So many people were willing to get involved, help, in so many ways. The spirit of Christmas is already alive and well in that. It’s going to be a great day and I hope a lot of people will be able to attend.

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Photos from last year’s festival provided by Nancy Davidson 

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