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(Enlarge) Getting a dose of Christmas spirit, Kitty Alexander enjoys one of the many decorated trees on display at Saturday’s Chesapeake Cancer Alliance Festival of Trees at the Bel Air Reckord Armory. For more coverage, see Page A6. (Matt Button | Aegis staff)

It’s pretty clear the winter holidays are getting more conflated each year, so it may not be too surprising that the area’s Christmas calendars are already as stuffed as that turkey you just finished eating.

Whether it’s Bel Air, Havre de Grace or Aberdeen, Harford County’s municipalities have Christmas festivities planned just around the corner and well ahead of Dec. 25.

A big weekend is on tap for all three local towns, as the first weekend in December is when Christmas action really kicks in.

Bel Air Parade & Tree Lighting

Bel Air’s 21st annual Christmas parade and tree lighting celebration this Sunday, Dec. 5.

The popularity of the event has increased yearly, and the 2010 parade and tree lighting promises more of the same.

Mike Blum is still parade chairman but the entire event is now under the auspices of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, which Blum said makes donations easier to track.

It’s all free, starting with a concert by the Patrick Redmond Band at 2:30 p.m. in front of the Harford County Courthouse on Main Street.

The parade starts at 3:30 p.m. and will be narrated by Teri Kranefeld, spokeswoman for the county school system.

There aren’t many changes this year, although Blum said the procession will feature “more horses” and the unfortunate absence of Ravens’ mascots and cheerleaders because of a competing game against Pittsburgh later that night.

The Orioles’ bird and the IronBirds’ mascots will still be there, he assured.

There will be some new performing groups, such as Brownie Scouts dressed as dancing cookies.

“You can expect a very funny, lighthearted, holiday-appropriate, musical and fun affair,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The big new thing is a much-expanded cookies and chocolate event at the end. We worked on this last year and this year it’s even better, with the Bel Air Community Band and volunteer vendors from the town.”

Parade-goers can keep the party going with music, carols, a bonfire and, yes, hot chocolate and cookies, at about 4 p.m. in Shamrock Park.

County Councilman Jim McMahan will be master of ceremonies there, and the Bel Air Community Band will provide entertainment.

The night will end with the tree lighting at 5 p.m.

“Cross your fingers for the weather,” Blum added.

The organizers of all the local Christmas events undoubtedly agree with that statement.

Havre de Grace lights

Havre de Grace starts this weekend off with a special “Light Up Night” this Friday, Dec. 3, when Santa rolls into town at 6 p.m. to catch a ride on a Susquehanna Hose Company fire truck up St. John Street to Washington Street.

This year, Santa will also be joined by Mrs. Claus, tourism manager Brigitte Peters said.

“Each year, this parade is getting bigger and bigger. More of the community is getting involved,” she said.

The city’s Christmas tree will be lit at about 6:45 p.m. that night.

The next day, Mr. and Mrs. Claus will return to the Amish market on Washington Street from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. to visit local kids.

Aberdeen Christmas Street

Aberdeen again hosts its daylong Christmas Street celebration this Saturday, Dec. 4, this time with the theme of “Storybook Christmas.”

Participants can get breakfast from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. alongside a familiar visitor from the North Pole, as Santa Claus plans to start his busy day at Grace United Methodist Church. Tickets will be available at the door.

The Christmas Craft Fair will then offer gifts and lunch opportunities from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Aberdeen Fire Hall on Rogers Street.

The Aberdeen Room Museum and Archives at 18 Howard Street will stay open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Grace United Methodist Church will also display its collection of nativity scenes from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Street entertainers and vendors will fill West Bel Air Avenue starting at 2 p.m., after which Santa and Mrs. Claus should be rested up for the parade that starts at 3 p.m.

Children can get more face time with Santa immediately following the parade in Festival Park, where a tree lighting ceremony will also take place.

Cecil County magic

For local traditionalists, the 63rd annual lighting of the historic Cecil County Holly Tree will take place off of Jackson Station Road this Saturday evening.

The ceremony will run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Holly Tree Corporation now also has 850 seedlings from the tree for sale. They will be given in exchange for a $10 donation to the corporation, or five seedlings can be bought for a $45 donation.

The seedlings are available now and can be bought by calling Michael Morgan at 410-287-9328, as well as at the tree lighting.




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