Hanover PA Santa Cabin



John R. McGrew

The basic facts on Hanover’s Santa’s Cabin are that over the years there have been only two. The very first one appeared in1936 and the second in 1937. The second one is still going strong. And THAT is what “Christmas 2012 – 75 years of Hanover’s Santa Cabin” is celebrating!

The sequence of events that lead up to the cabin appears to have begun about 1929 when the Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Gas & Electric System, also known as Met Ed, teamed up “to the end that Hanover might present a more attractive Christmas appearance than in precious years.” The prize of a Westinghouse electric range was offered for originality in lighting the exterior of a home. The judges had difficulty in selecting from among the entries. In 1930, the contest was repeated with entries accepted not only from Hanover residents, but also the surrounding area, so long as served by Met Ed. First prize was again a Westinghouse range with several extra prizes for honorable mentions offered by four local electrical contractors, C.E. Bechtel, E. J.J. Gobrecht, Murphy Electric Co.; and R.E.S. Swam Co. Met Ed, than at 29 Baltimore Street, showed the way to do it by festooning some 1500 some electric lights on their building, as well as having an electrically illuminated tree in the lobby.

Perhaps in response to the Great Depression, the down-town merchants teamed up with the Borough in 1932 to attract customers by decorating the Center Square. The Borough also contributed one of its employees, John Fuhrman, as Santa, according to his daughter, Mrs. Feeser. At some point a new feature began, the scheduled arrival of Santa in the down-town area.

In 1934 for example, Santa arrived by airplane at Hanover’s first landing field, Forney Airport on Boundary Avenue, and was escorted to the Square by the kids and the Junior High band. Once in the Square, he distributed oranges and candy and then set up shop at Wards. One can imagine that the other contributing downtown merchants, like Sears, might not fully appreciate this.

saw the merchants and Borough setting up laurel arches over the first blocks of Baltimore and Carlisle Street illuminated by 1,100 bulbs plus a 30 foot tall illuminated evergreen tree with 170 multicolored bulbs in the Oval. There was no mention of a Santa involved with this year’s festivities, although some of the downtown merchants advertised he would be in their shops to receive requests from kids.

It was the astute and inventive Borough Manager, Chester A. Eckbert, who came up with the idea of, shall we say, a “non-denominational” Santa’s Cabin. In 1936, he and his employees cut and fitted by hand some of the standing blight-killed chestnut trees from the Borough owned watershed in the Pigeon Hills. They just set up the cabin on the oval in Center Square facing Frederick Street, just in front of the Picket statue. Part of the project was a Santa Clause Letter Box. Santa arrived Saturday, November 5, in mid afternoon, again by air, but this time landing at Ray Devener’s new airfield out Broadway. Santa was greeted by most of the Borough politicians, many kids and one band. Goats (30 crates of oranges and tangerines) were distributed and a schedule posted of hours to receive kids. Between the hours of 7 and 9 each evening, Santa planned to circulate among the several downtown stores.

The Borough Council meeting of December 17, 1936, as reported in the Evening Sun, offered high praise that this year’s community Christmas project was one of the finest things of its kind ever undertaken here. They gave credit for the success to the Borough Manager for suggesting the idea and putting it into effect. It noted that “Santa’s log cabin” had received wide acclaim, especially from out-of-town visitors. Already hundreds of letters to Santa had been posted which were to be delivered; although details of who would reply were not given.

It also reported the Mr. Eckbert had thought of the cabin as a one time phenomenon and that he had already received some three dozen queries from people wishing to purchase it as soon as Santa vacated. Eckbert planned to put it up at auction with any profits to remain with the borough as the cabin had been built by borough labor and materials, rather than returning the monies to the local merchants.

The 1936 cabin was sold to James Malcolm who set it up in his backyard on Stock Street as a play house for his 5 year old grand-daughter. Lois McClaren Revi. I asked Lois recently what eventually happened to it and she told me sadly that the termites got to it. (SIDE NOTE: Lois has been contacted and will be involved in the 2012 celebration!)

The success of the first cabin was such that it was decided to continue the Santa’s cabin. Based on the first year’s experience, the second one was to be larger and would beheld over for future years. This second and still active cabin took more of the old chestnut trees and was built on skids for easier transport, In 1937, Santa arrived by air at 2:00pm and was escorted by car to the Square and his cabin which was placed on the Oval facing Frederick Street. The Hanover Junior High band was on hand in the Square to serenade St. Nick’s arrival.

One of the changes for 1938 was that the cabin was painted “fresh green” with white trim. Because Santa was not scheduled to arrive until after dark, there was more use of electric lights to brighten his way. Two large hemlocks were installed and decorated on the Oval behind the cabin.

In 1939, the P.O.S. of A. band serenaded the crowds estimated at 1,000 on the Square before Santa’s arrival at 7pm.in an antique Russian sleigh mounted on small wheels, painted red, orange and black and drawn by a sleek pair of horses. This sleigh was in use for some 20 years, eventually painted white and retired in favor of a motorized conveyance only because a team was no longer available. There was the usual distribution of citrus and candy. A single tall pine was decorated on the Oval for Santa’s arrival. The tree was moved to Wirt Park the day after the welcoming ceremony.

According to Sam Therit, the sleigh was owned by Henry E. “Henner” Bechtel whose farm was at 1160 Broadway, fairly handy to the airport. Henner also provided the team and on a clear photo his initials in brass letters can be seen on the harness.

In 1940, Santa arrived at the Square on a Friday evening, December 9, to a serenade by the Eichelberger Senior High band. Because of the crush of previous years, he did not attempt to distribute oranges and candy directly to the crowd. However, when he arrived at his cabin, the door was locked. A key was produced, which failed to work for Santa or several "experts." Finally, Chief of Police Keeney was able to remove the lock with a screwdriver. Santa had wandered away greeting the youngsters. After he realized to door had been sprung, he returned to the cabin only to have the door slammed in his face. The police inside had thought it was kids trying to crash the cabin. All was soon straightened out and the usual stream of youngsters presented their wants to Santa and received their goodies.

The annual preparations went smoothly in 1941 with Santa due to arrive the evening of December 8. He may have done so, but it never made the paper. The attack on Pearl Harbor took precedence over all else in the newspaper.

There appears to have been no arrival in 1942. By 1943 the cabin was back, decorated with greens, but no electrical illumination. The war-time black-out was very much in effect. Also, it was placed facing out Carlisle Street. The Frederick Street side of the oval had been pre-empted by the military Roll of Honor.

In 1944, according to spokesman Chester Eckbert, Santa "preferred to slip into Hanover quietly" the evening of December 15 without benefit of a parade. Again, the cabin was placed facing Carlisle Street, but the lights were back on.

There was again no parade in 1945 and decorations were limited to spending what funds were left in the Christmas decoration treasury. One noted change was that the Cabin was freshly repainted red and green. This seems to have been the third and last time the cabin faced towards Carlisle Street.

A different problem arose in 1946. All was fine except John L. Lewis had taken his coal miners out on strike. The government decreed a dim-out, including no electrical Christmas decorations. R.H. Sheppard Co. volunteered several diesel generators which were all set to light up the downtown decorations on December 9. The coal strike was settled on the 8th. While there was no organized parade, there was a band scheduled to serenade Santa when he arrived at the Square on the evening of December 13.

In 1947, based on stories in the paper, down-town merchants seem to have hired a commercial-package parade, with balloon figures, mechanical floats plus 6 local bands to escort Santa to his Cabin. Things were finally returning to normal after the war.

The next year, 1948, the Junior Chamber of Commerce got into the act and arranged for an evening parade with bands and 20 local floats. Bigger and better parades were arranged for 1949 and 1950.

However, in 1950 a conflict arose between Eckbert and the Junior Chamber of Commerce. Eckbert pulled Santa out of the parade as it went through Center Square the first time, before the kids on the second circuit could see him. There are columns of recrimination in the papers. Santa did eventually come down the aerial fire ladder from the roof of the Square Commercial Bldg. (Toor Bldg, BonTon). This one-time event was sufficiently recent and memorable that it was the sole confirmed item in the 1978 cabin “history” article.

In 1951, so far as I can tell, without the help of the Chamber, there was no parade. However, the Cabin was set up on the Oval, St. Nick was in residence and Letters to Santa were received. This year the secret of who answered the letters was finally revealed. Mr. and Mrs. Grover C. Gouker Jr., were, for the third year, serving as Santa's correspondence secretaries. During 1949 through 1951, they read and answered an average of more than 900 letters each year.

In 1952, the Cabin was set up in front of the former Peoples Bank in the southwest corner of the Square, where it is still placed. This resulted from a Borough ordinance that foot traffic was no longer permitted in the Oval on Center Square. Getting masses of youngsters out to the Oval across traffic impeded traffic flow and endangered the kids. A thirty-foot tall evergreen tree and green garlands decorated the Oval. The cabin was moved from storage on November 25 and the community Retail Merchants associated with the Hanover Chamber of Commerce and the Borough manager announced the arrival on November 29 by air of Santa Claus at Devener Airport. The parade included three school bands and Santa in the Russian sleigh, driven as usual by Mr. Bechtel in a top hat. Santa was expected to distribute many cases of oranges and one-half ton of candy.

In 1953, Santa arrived at Devener Airport at 9 in the morning on Saturday, November 28, with a crowd of about 300 on hand to welcome him there. He rode his horse-drawn sleigh, now painted white, in Broadway. At McKinley Street his parade was augmented by six school bands and they proceeded to the Square where about a thousand kids welcomed him. From about Fulton Street, there were spectators lining both sides of Broadway. The sky had been overcast and threatening all morning, but the sun broke through just as he arrived at the Square. The now vacated Oval was decorated with two large evergreen trees that towered over the Picket statue.

Santa's 1954 Saturday arrival was scheduled for 8:45 AM at Devener Airport. Ten bands joined the parade in Broadway at McKinley Avenue. A new feature which remained in effect for several years was free movies for Hoffman Orphanage and Paradise School youngsters at the State Theater on Frederick Street, compliments of the down-town merchants. Santa's busy schedule at the Cabin was reported in the paper.

The 1955 events were a carbon copy of the previous year. However, this year Santa rated a front page photo in the December 23 newspaper listening to the Christmas requests from Tommy and Cindy Smith.
Santa was welcomed at Devener Airport in 1956 by the town Burgess and a representative of the retail merchants of the Chamber of Commerce. The cold morning kept the crowd at the airport to about 250, including parents. Santa, in his Russian sleigh now drawn by a single horse, came in Broadway and was joined at McKinley Avenue by nine area school bands and various dignitaries in new vehicles provided by local dealers. Another several hundred kids greeted his arrival in the Square. Again, there were free movies at the State movie house.
1956 may have seen the first appearance of the fiber-glass Bells hanging from the laurel swags strung across the approaches to the Square. These illuminated bells, three and four feet high, can be seen in photos at least through 1975.

The 1957 program had a couple of innovations. First was a two page ad by the downtown merchants in the paper announcing Santa's arrival. Second was a merry-go-round set up in the Square with free rides for the younger kids. The 9:00 AM parade to the Square was attracting school bands from further away, Reisterstown, Westminster and Taneytown. The first snow flakes of the season welcomed Santa's arrival, but there was no accumulation and, except for a light rain, all went according to plans.
An update on the activities of Santa's corresponding secretaries, Mr. & Mrs. Grover Gouker Jr., noted some 600 letters had already been received by mid-December with another 2 or 3 hundred expected. All were to be answered, so long as there was an address for Santa's reply. The running total since 1949 was now about 6000 letters.

The flight to the suburbs had begun to have an effect on old St. Nick. There may have been some stress on those kids who still believed in Santa in 1958. Along with the usual "official" Santa in Santa's Cabin on the Square, he was scheduled to arrive by helicopter at the new Clearview Shopping Center, sponsored by the 20 merchants there. However, winter weather prevented the helicopter from flying, so that Santa arrived there by automobile.
The 1958 down-town Santa arrived at Devener airport on November 22 and with his usual parade, now at 11 bands, proceeded to his residence at his Cabin on the Square. This year he rode in a convertible rather than his old Russian sleigh. A new door had been cut into the side of the cabin to permit better traffic flow for his visitors. He still handed out fruit and candy to his visitors and the merry-go-round was again set up near the cabin..

In 1959, Santa arrived at Devener Airport at 9:00 AM on Saturday, November 21 and, riding in a convertible, was escorted to his Cabin by a dozen school bands. This year there was a spectacular innovation provided by the Downtown Merchants, a 40 foot high Tinsel (Glitter, aluminum) Tree which made its first appearance in the center of the Oval, erected over and hiding The Picket statue. It was also held in place by the statue. The tree was dedicated the evening of the 28th by three local pastors and Christmas music was provided by massed choirs and the Lyric Band. The Tinsel Tree reappeared each year through 1966 when the Picket was moved to the northeast corner of the Square and the Oval removed..
The celebration of the Clearview Shopping Center Santa's arrival a week later was marred by bad weather.

In 1960, there were 15 bands. However, this year Santa arrived by helicopter at Moul Field and was escorted to his Cabin by way of East Middle and York Streets. He is reported to have ridden in a wheeled sleigh, but no photo of it has been found. The Tinsel Tree was still a major attraction appearing in two front page photos in the paper and again the focus of massed chorus and musicians from the Lyric Band.
The Clearview Santa swept into town in a convertible serenaded by the Eichelberger Senior High School band one day before the downtown Santa.

In 1961 the downtown ceremonies started on Friday evening, November 24, with the lighting of the Tinsel Tree and other decorations, along with a Christmas concert presented by massed choruses and the brass ensemble of the Lyric Band. Santa's arrival was the next morning at Devener Airport, but this year the route to the Square was by way of the more commodious Moul Field on Ridge Avenue where a dozen bands were marshaled. Gone was the sleigh; Santa rode in a convertible. Throngs of spectators lined the parade route and a large crowd was on hand at the Cabin to welcome him. Distribution of fruit and candy was restricted to each child as he or she visited him in the Cabin. No report on quantities distributed was found.
This year the Clearview Santa arrived a full week before the downtown one, greeted by two bands, Eichelberger and Delone Senior High Schools. This early arrival seems to have had little or no dampening effect on the welcome to the downtown Santa.

In 1962, Santa arrived at Devener airport in the morning of November 24 and paraded to town in a convertible escorted by 9 bands plus marching units. Crowds hailed him along the parade route and again at his Cabin. The Square was decorated with the Tinsel Tree in the Oval, 4 foot lighted stars at the corners of the Square and the illuminated fiber-glass bells hanging from the swags across the entrances to the Square.
The Clearfield Shopping Center Santa finally had good enough weather conditions on December 1 to allow him to arrive by helicopter. He, too, was greeted by crowds of kids.

This was the Bicentennial of the founding of Hanover and the Centennial of the Battle of Hanover. In the middle of summer, Santa's Cabin was moved to the north-east quadrant of the Square in front of the G.C. Murphy (now Hanover Shoe Outlet) store. It was displayed as one of Hanover's well-loved traditions.
When the holiday season rolled around, the Tinsel Tree was still front page news; it and the other decorations were in place by November 15. Saturday, November 23 was set for the lighting of the decorations and the arrival of Santa himself. A pall was cast over the celebrations by the assassination of President Kennedy on the 22nd. There was neither time to cancel nor reschedule the parade, so it proceeded in a very subdued mood with Santa taking up residence at his Cabin. The lighting of the decorations was postponed until after the funeral. On December 23 the Tinsel Tree made the papers, this time well dusted with snow and traffic creeping around it and the Oval. On the 24th, it again was pictured, this time at night with an illuminated Santa in his sleigh pulled by six reindeer soaring well above the 40 foot tree. A closer look shows the explanation, "(Evening Sun Photo-Montage)."

In 1964, the Tinsel Tree was in place by November 24, with Santa's arrival scheduled for Saturday, the 28th. Seven bands were expected to parade him to the Square and his Cabin. This year, the Chamber of Commerce arranged for free movies at the State Theater on Frederick Street, a Disney feature, a Three Stooges film and a number of cartoons, for all the kids.

In 1965, the Tinsel Tree was decorated with red and green lights and the smaller evergreens around the Oval were illuminated with white and "glitter" lights. Some of the cross-street garlands were replaced with new and larger green wreaths, all to be turned on November 27, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The newspaper finally resolved the two Santas in town with the headline: "Santa Claus To Arrive Two Consecutive Days."
The Clearview Santa arrived by helicopter under a clear sky on Friday, November 26 to acclaim from crowds of kids. Santa's Saturday arrival was not as lucky. Rain forced a cancellation of the parade and instead of riding on a fire truck to the Square escorted by a number of bands, he came in an ordinary automobile to his Cabin. In spite of the rain, he was greeted by hundreds of children. In all likelihood, many of the kids were more than willing to dry out in the free movies at the Hanover Theater, formerly the State, which had been refurbished and renamed in May of this year.

In 1966, the Tinsel Tree had some competition from an illuminated flag-pole tree atop the Hanover Shoe factory on Carlisle Street. (This tree reportedly can still be seen seasonally on the Hanover General Hospital.) New strands of green and tinsel, purchased by retail merchants' association, were strung across the streets leading from the Square.
Santa's arrival at the Square was on a small sleigh mounted on a float along with several (unidentified) young ladies, his "reindeers." We can only hope the weather was mild, considering how they were dressed. The front-page photo is probably too fuzzy to try to identify them from their high school yearbooks, but they know who they are..

In late 1967 work had begun on the removal of the Oval to allow for straight-through traffic across the Square. With no suitable place for the Tinsel Tree, it was retired after eight sparkling years. There were more swags across the streets extending further out from the Square, some with the fiber glass bells, all with large wreaths at the center, some of which enclosed large illuminated Stars.
Another development was that 1967 saw three Santa arrivals. At 9:00 AM on Friday, November 24, he showed up at Clearview Shopping Center with the Hanover High School Band to serenade him. At 2:00 PM the same day he arrived at his Cabin on the Square on a float decorated as a giant Swan from Toyland and accompanied by a half-dozen high school bands. At 10:00 AM the next morning, he arrived at the newly opened North Hanover Shopping Center (not yet a Mall). The Christmas Season was off with a bang.
What happened to the Tinsel Tree? It sat around, all rolled up on the third floor of the former Murphy's 5 & 10 store at 21 Carlisle Street until purchased by David DeHoff who prevailed on Tony Juiffre to let him store it for a couple of weeks in a barn way out Broadway at Tony's Orchard Garden and Gift Shop. After several years, time came to refurbish the barn and all the boxes and bags were to be removed. David suggested they set up the Tinsel Tree at the Gift Shop. With considerable effort they got it set up, but there was no Picket to hold it in place, and a gust of wind flattened it within an hour. It was then piled under tarps until DeHoff sold it. Just for the record, according to a story in the Evening Sun for November 30, 1991, the tree was bought this year by Herbert Sterner and Judy Phillips of Colonial Valley in Menges Mills and it was set-up for a Christmas Spectacular, admission $7 per. Photos show a somewhat threadbare tree.

The plethora of Santas began to wear thin and little was reported in the paper. He arrived by helicopter at North Hanover at 10:30 AM on Friday, November 29, but when he arrived at Clearview or the Square was not stated. At least he was at his Cabin on December 23 when he was photographed listening to Pam Trostle list what she would like to see under the tree on Christmas.

The newspaper reporting stressed the opening of the Christmas shopping season and casually mentioned that Santa had arrived at various, unspecified, points. A photo of the downtown area show a large, perhaps 6 feet tall, candle with a wreath around the "flame" attached to one of the poles on Carlisle Street. Another, of a heavy snowfall the day after Christmas, shows swags across the street with wreathes and fiber-glass bells.

The Viet Nam war situation may have served to distract people from the Christmas festivities. Santa again made his three appearances in town, this year all on the same day, Friday, November 26. He arrived at North Hanover by parachute at 11 AM, by a parade to his Cabin on the Square at 2 PM and at Clearview at 7 PM.
The parade to the Square included 5 school bands and Miss Hanover Area 1970, Miss Meg Irish. The downtown decorations were to be turned on at dusk the same day. Also, a California blue spruce and four upright yews had been planted in the north-west corner of the Square.

This year the Santa arrivals were down to only two. Both were to be on Friday November 26; at 11 AM by parachute to North Hanover Mall and at 2 PM by a parade to his Cabin in Center Square. There were expected to be five bands, but no details on mode of transport or even if either one did arrive.

A single short article appeared reporting Santa arrived at North Hanover Mall at 11:30 this morning, Friday, November 24, and shortly later at his headquarters on Center Square with about five local school bands in attendance.

There was little in the papers about Santa. Watergate and the oil shortage received the attention. It was pointed out that the oil shortage was responsible for far fewer plastic toys available this season.

Santa again received a minimum amount of press coverage. It was said that he was to arrive at his Cabin by horse-drawn sleigh, but photos are lacking so we do not know if it was a reappearance of the Russian Sleigh. In a display of local pride, after all these years, Santa's gift of oranges and candy to the children of Hanover was replaced with potato chips and candy.

Coverage in the paper this season was limited to three photographs, two of the Cabin and one of Santa surrounded by youngsters and their parents taken in the Square at the end of the parade on Friday, November 28.

The Evening Sun reporter who wrote about Santa's anticipated arrival the next days seems to have been as frustrated about the lack of details. "At the present time none of the persons in charge seem to know." In question was sleigh or a shiny new convertible as Santa's means of transport. It seems the pair of horses originally engaged to pull the sleigh had been killed in a recent barn fire. A second pair refused to work together in an acceptable manner. They were still trying to find a suitable team, but failing this, it would be the convertible. Again, candy and potato chips were the promised rewards for the kids. There was a set of five photos of well-bundled-up kids, all identified in the captions, waiting for Santa's arrival.

There was a single story in the paper this year. There was a 10:00 AM parade with three bands escorting Santa in a sleigh. For the fourth year, the hand-outs were candy and potato chips.

In 1978, they settled on Santa arriving at his Cabin on top of a fire engine. Again there were three bands. This year, on December 5, there was a front page story with a photo of children , with parents, queued up for a visit with Santa. The story was titled "Santa's Log Cabin Has Long Tradition." The story is by-lined and at least one of the sources is named; however I choose not to name them here as this "history" is remarkable for its inaccuracies. A claim of the story was that the cabin was nearing the half-century mark and that first cabin set up in the oval sometime about 1930. One of the respondents reported he had a photo of the cabin taken in 1932 and that the cabin had been around "several years prior to that." There was also mention of a stage on which Santa was greeted by the kids. It reported, the cabin was set-up in the quadrant in front of the Central Hotel and that Santa arrived at the Square from the roof of the Sheppard-Myers Building (Toor Bldg, Bon-Ton, Square Commercial Bldg.) on both 1950 and 1951. The first arrival is confirmed, the second is not, nor is this location for the cabin.

For these two Christmas Seasons, the was no coverage in the paper of the cabin or of Santa's arrival.

There was a story this year, of a 9:00 AM arrival at the airport and a parade with three bands and Santa riding on a fire truck.

There was a bit more of coverage in the paper, the parade with Santa on a fire truck, two bands and Miss Hanover included in the parade. Of interest to the newspaper was that once again, as in 1940, Santa was temporarily locked out of his Cabin. The North Hanover Mall Santa rated a photo in the paper, but no story.

No story this year.

Again, no story, but Santa did rate a photo of his arrival on a fire truck.

The first clue in the paper that the Christmas season was approaching was a photo of employees of Swam Electric installing decorations downtown. Santa arrived at the Square on November 30 with no mention of a parade.

Again Swam got the first mention on November 18. Santa arrived on the 28th on a fire-truck, with no mention of a parade,. There were photos of his arrival and of several of the kids.

This year the Hanover Merchants Association put a half-page announcement of the Annual Christmas Parade, with Santa arriving 9 AM, November 27, on a fire truck with a Hanover school band and Miss Hanover Area Amy Renner. Also in the advertisement was a full schedule of Santa's hours at the Cabin. There were photos of Santa's arrival, the crowd, the band and the kids watching.

On November 19 there was a story anticipating Santa's arrival with a photo of a letter being put into the Santa Claus mail box on the Cabin. Three bands were to be in the parade on November 25 and the Hanover Merchants Association was reported to have had the Cabin "straightened and repaired", replaced the doors and windows, had it repainted, rewired and installed new carpeting. The day after the parade there was a fine photo of Santa on the fire truck and of the crowd waiting to enter the Cabin to see him.

Again the Hanover Merchants Association put a half-page announcement of the parade, arrival and Santa's hours. Two High School bands, Hanover and South Western, were expected. Santa's arrival on November 24th made the front page along with three pictures of Santa and the kids.

Coverage this year was no more than the half-page ad by the Hanover Merchants Association reporting Santa's arrival on November 23, with two bands and the Liberty Bell(e) Drum and Baton Corps. Also in the parade was to be Miss Hanover Area, Heather Bell. No photos, or mention, was found of the actual arrival.

The sponsor of the half-page ad this year was the shopkeepers of Downtown Hanover, Inc., with the Parade to be on November 29, including Santa on a fire truck, two bands, the Liberty Belles and Miss Hanover Area Deborah Rosensteel. This year the Hanover Exchange Club started their continuing care of moving the Cabin from the Borough storage lot and setting it up the Square. Credit for decorating the Cabin was given to Brownie Troop #716 of Trinity Church of Christ. Santa's arrival was documented in the Evening Sun, the 30th, with Santa on the fire engine and a couple of kids waiting for the parade to arrive.

Again, Downtown Hanover Inc. orchestrated the Parade with a half-page ad the day before the Friday, November 27th arrival. Included was a schedule of Santa's hours at the Cabin. Two high school bands, Hanover and South Western, the Liberty Belle Drum & Baton Corps and Miss Hanover Area Kimberly Kreitz were announced. On Saturday, the Evening Sun had a photo of Santa and of three of the kids.
Of great value to a record of the history of Santa's Cabin was a feature article by Laurie Houser titled Santa's headquarters 60 years old. Information was based on an extensive interview with a retired borough employee and one-time Santa Claus, John Fuhrman. John had disremembered the actual year the first cabin was built, but he was there when it and the second cabin were built. He mentions the blight-killed chestnuts from the borough watershed, the hand work of assembling them, and that the first cabin sold for a little over $100 and went on as a child's playhouse. If things got busy in the afternoons or the regular Santa was unavailable, the Borough Manager, Chester Eckbert, would round up John from his regular duties, bundle him into a Santa suit and install him in the Cabin. John said he enjoyed ever minute of it.
Also quoted was the executive director of Downtown Hanover Inc, Don Stabler, who was not sure whether the Cabin brought enough business to downtown to cover the effort, but that the traditional values and good feelings engendered made it worthwhile.
Again, there was credit given to Brownie Troop No. 716 of Trinity United Church for the annual decorating and cleanup of the Cabin.

Again, Downtown Hanover Inc. organized the Parade and put a half-page ad the day before the Friday, November 26th arrival. Included was a schedule of Santa's hours at the Cabin. Two bands, Hanover and South Western, the Liberty Belle Drum & Baton Corps and Miss Hanover Area Kristen Smith were announced. On Saturday, the
paper has a single front page photo of Santa waving to the crowd.

There was a brief story on Monday, November 21 in the Evening Sun about the impending parade which was to form at Middle Street and Baer Avenue, come in York Street to the Square, drop off Santa and exit out Frederick to North Franklin. Two bands, the Liberty Belles, a fire truck and Miss Hanover Area Jennifer Crossen. Again, the Brownie Troop # 716 was credited for decorating the Cabin.
The day before the Friday, November 26th, parade, Downtown Hanover again had a half-page advertisement about the parade. A Saturday story with pictures mentioned a four generation group that wouldn’t miss the celebration for anything.

The North Hanover Mall Santa received most of the newspaper space, including a story by Ann Diviney. The Downtown Hanover Merchants put in their last half-page ad on Thanksgiving day announcing the parade. The same time, bands and route as the previous year with the current Miss Hanover, Carrie Stiff.
On Saturday, the 25th, the front page was devoted to Black Friday stories while Santa's arrival rated a photo on page 3 captioned "Never too Old - Santa in Fire Truck."

Newspaper publicity for Santa's Cabin hit a low this year. There was a single story on November 22 about "Santa getting things ready." North Hanover Mall disclaimed competing with Downtown Hanover (Inc.) Twice the cabin was referred to as the "shack." Eventually the director of Downtown Hanover was quoted on the date and hour of the parade and gave credit to the Brownie Troop from Trinity Church for getting the "cabin" ready for Santa's arrival. All photos in the Sunday paper after the parade were of North Hanover events.

Newspaper coverage this year began on November 16 with a story by Justin Quinn on which of the two Hanover Santas was the REAL one. Denise McDowell of Downtown Hanover based her claims of the more than 50 years and that three generations of Hanoverians had welcomed Santa to his cabin in the Square. The cabin had already appeared on the Square and was to be decorated by Brownie Troop 716 in a couple of days. Santa wold arrive on a fire truck the day after Thanksgiving escorted by Miss Hanover and her Court. North Hanover Mall's Robin Kyle touted Santa's earlier arrival, November 22, and was supported by comments from several of the store managers there.

To stir up anticipation, on Wednesday, November 19, there was a photo on page 3 of a Swam Electric employee installing some new Chamber of Commerce decorations downtown. On Sunday, the 23rd, there was a story and photo of Ray and Jeff Black unloading a 17 foot tall spruce tree to be set up by the Central Hotel, the first Community Christmas Tree in many years.

The day after the Christmas Parade there was a front page story on the entrance of St. Nick to Center Square. The slight drizzle did not discourage the bands or spectators.
A photo of Santa inside the cabin shows a six-year-old peeking at him through the window.

The Christmas season started with a photo of Swam Electric putting up decorations on November 17. By the 22nd. one Santa was installed in North Hanover Mall and there was a story with time and route about the Center Square Santa Parade coming up on Friday, the 27th. The day after the parade there was a short story and photo showing kids waiting while the South Western High School band marched by. More than 500 were on hand in the chilly morning to welcome Santa.

The lead-off to the Christmas Season was a photo on November 16 of Swam Electric installing decorations with the caption reminding that Santa Claus would arrive during the annual Christmas Parade on Friday, November 26. The photo and story of the arrival on Saturday, November 27 noted the 500+ onlookers, the Hanover and South Western High School bands, Liberty Belles and Nebula School groups that made up the 15 minute parade. A hit on this chilly morning was the 30 gallons of hot chocolate provided by the Foursquare Gospel Church volunteers.

North Hanover Mall Santa grabbed the first attention with a front-page photo on November 19. The caption noted that Santa would also be paraded to his cabin on the Square on Friday, the 24th, at 9:00 AM, On Wednesday, the 22nd, there was a photo showing members of Brownie Troop 716 of Trinity UCC decorating Santa's Cabin. The caption reported Santa would be on his fire truck and that the parade would include the two local high school marching bands, an Utz truck and the First Night Hanover float with Frosty the Snowman.

An interesting story in the Local News section on Thursday, November 23, noted that there would be two Santa parades on Friday; in the morning to Santa's Cabin at Center Square, Hanover and in the evening to Santa's Shanty on Lincoln Square in Gettysburg. The usual parade was planned for Hanover while an impressive parade of floats, dancers, bands and clowns was announced for Gettysburg.

The Saturday follow up story on the Hanover parade noted some 2000 parents and children on hand in spite of temperatures only in the high 30s.

North Hanover Mall Santa lead-off the Christmas season arriving by helicopter on November 17. On Wednesday, the 21st, there is a great photo of Naomi Shy, of the Trinity UCC Brownie Troop 716, decorating the tree inside Santa's Cabin in preparation for Santa's arrival on Friday. On Thursday, the 22nd, there is a story about the two Santa Parades the next day. Hanover's parade has added the Borough snow crew to the usual bands and twirlers. The Gettysburg, noted as the 10th annual parade with a group of five Philadelphia Mummers marching, the 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry, along with the usual band, etc. When the count was added up, about 3000 children visited the Hanover Cabin this season.

The North Hanover Mall Santa arrived first in a horse-drawn buggy on November 18, complete with his photography crew. Swam Electric put up Christmas decorations on Friday, November 22 and were pictured on the front page the following day.
The Exchange Club and generous volunteers received considerable praise for refurbishing the aging Cabin, including a steel framework to keep it in shape and a trailer to move it from storage to the Square. The story appeared, with several photos, in the November 24 issue of the Evening Sun.
Santa's arrival at his Cabin on Friday, November 29 rated another front page story. The parade was sponsored by the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce. The Hanover Fire Commissioner and Police Chief lead the parade followed by the SW High School marching band, Brownie Troops 716 and 170a, the antique Utz delivery truck, Miss Hanover Sarah Hoffman, Frosty the Snowman, Peoples Bank employees tossing candies to the onlookers and Santa on a Borough fire engine serenaded by the Hanover HS marching band.
A second story, also front page, bemoaned the lack of a community tree and tree-lighting ceremony. It was reported that this community event had been discontinued in the late 1960s (actually 1966) when the Tinsel Tree retired, although it had been revived briefly in 1997 and 1998. The borough manager excused the borough from sponsorship of any religious symbolism and passed the problem back to the community.

The Hanover Area Garden Club stepped forward to decorated the Square (Tuesday, November 18). Next day Swam Electric put up some new snowflake decorations around the Square. On Friday, one Mike Jacoby is shown helping put up a large evergreen in the Square with the lighting scheduled for November 29, the day Santa was to arrive at his cabin. This was the year that rain washed out the entire parade. Santa arrived, alone, inside the fire engine, and set up inside the Cabin to welcome a few hardy visitors. The tree-lighting took place the next day, Saturday, and rated a photo in the Sunday paper.

Swam Electric started off this Christmas season by putting up decorations along Baltimore Street. There was a story on page 3 of Sunday, November 21, with details about events surrounding Santa's arrival on the 26th. The parade was to start at 9 am with the two high school bands, Black Rose Twirlers and Santa on the fire engine, rain or shine. Volunteers from the Four Square Gospel Church planned to serve hot chocolate to those waiting in line to see Santa.
A Community Christmas tree lighting was scheduled for about 7 PM with Emily Freiert doing the honors as winner of the tree trimming contest. The borough allowed free parking in the downtown area from November 26 through December 31. Photos the day after Santa's arrival include Santa's mail box. The number of visitors this year was reported to be about 1800.

Setting up the Community Christmas Tree started off this years celebrations. On November 19, the Hanover Exchange, Lions and Rotary Clubs combined efforts to ready the Square and Cabin for Santa's arrival. As well as putting up street decorations, Swam Electric strung the lights on the tree. Brownie Troop 716 continued its tradition of decorating the Cabin.
The Parade was directed by the Exchange Club in the usual format in the morning of Friday, November 25. The hour-long tree lighting ceremony was scheduled for 6:30 that evening with entertainment by a Brass Quartet, the Hanover Area Children's Choir and a welcoming address by Councilwoman Deb Hoff. Fresh baked pretzels, cookies and hot chocolate were to be served.
On the day of the Parade the temperature was in the 20s. Even so, about 200 kids showed up to greet Santa.

The Community Christmas Tree Committee put up the tree on November 15 in preparation for Santa's arrival on Friday, November 24. The weather was cool, but not as cold as last year, and a good crowd showed up.

Hanover Tradition Continues

Christopher Arter


A former Hanover resident, William Day wrote an article and was published Thanksgiving Day, describing memories and traditions of Christmas past in the 1940s and 1950s. He mentioned all the wonderful toylands that were in downtown Hanover, such as E.J.J. Gobrecht, Montgomery Wards, J. C. Tanger’s, Bon Ton and G. C. Murphy 5 and 10. E.J.J. Gobrecht also sponsored Santa and Rudolph, a.k.a. “Ned Rutledge” on WHVR radio, who would talk with all the children in the Hanover and surrounding area and would ask them what they wanted Santa to bring them. Santa arrived on top of a firetruck this year on November 23. As usual, a large crowd waited on his entrance.

A group of 5 year olds were seen walking in the snow, delivering their wish lists to Santa’s cabin mailbox as a field trip. Another group was seen posing with Santa in the cabin’s open doorway. They included two brothers from West York, two brothers from North Carroll School and twin sisters from Hanover.


November 28 started the tradition this year with Santa arriving with great weather. It was another busy start to the season, with the sixth annual tree lighting of a thirteen foot tree that evening. While waiting for the ceremony to start, many got in line for free hot chocolate from Hanover’s Starbucks. More than 300 people showed up for the tree lighting, and enjoyed the carolers and eleven tuba players from all over the area. More than 1,800 children visited with Santa this year.


The Hanover Area Chamber Of Commerce and Hanover Exchange Club hosted the Hanover Christmas parade on November 27th. The Southwest High School marching band, the Black Rose Twirlers as well as several mascots and antique cars traveled from the playground at Baer Avenue to the square. At the end, Santa was seen, riding on the fire truck, waving to the smiling cheering kids. The Chamber had purchased a 25 foot tall artificial tree in the quadrant near the fountain.


This year began with a chance of rain, but held out for the start of the Christmas parade, held on November 26th. Various floats were in this year’s parade, including one with remote airplanes, with a large one trailing behind. Balsa planes were handed out to the children along the way, complements of Blue and Gray Miniature Squadron Club. This year, there were also kids on bikes, decorated in a Christmas theme, which was new.


Santa arrived on November 25th, on a brand new fire truck. It appears the parade is growing in size with more marching groups, floats and decorated bikes. The Hanover Chamber Of Commerce hosted a scavenger hunt this year called Holidaze Scramble, to promote area businesses and landmarks.


This year marks the 75th anniversary of the cabin. With much planning from the Christmas Committee there were a lot of activities the first day. Those festivities included a parade with gymnasts, antique cars and fire trucks, decorated bikes Southwestern High’s marching band and floats. At the end of the parade, Santa arrived on a sleigh pulled by two white horses. There were also activities throughout the day, including face painting, cookie decorating, a magic show, ice sculpting and self guided tours of Hanover historic buildings. Santa handed out oranges to the children during the first weekend, complements of the Hanover Lions Club, and also wooden nickels to all the children this year. Over fifty Christmas trees were decorated around the square, with a large live tree for the tree lighting.


Santa’s arrival this year was November29, on Hanover’s new aerial ladder fire truck. Mayor Ben Adams led the procession, in his white 1949 Chevy truck with his son Nicolas by his side. Hundreds of people lined the streets, watching the floats, bikes a number of small businesses and organizations marching and passing out candy and coupons. Over 1,900 children visited with Santa this year.


This year, we had a white Thanksgiving. It had snowed several inches on Wednesday, but by Friday, all was good. For this year Santa worked very hard in making certain that every child was seen. Even on the last night he stayed until 9:30pm listening to the many requests of our communities’ children.


This was the year it was decided to resume showcasing a live tree for the Hanover Square. The previous artificial tree had become problem some. A tree was selected by members of Main Street Hanover and that November the 16 foot Douglas Fir had been installed with the help from seniors from Hanover High School. The tree was decorated with clear lights. This was also the first year that Main Street Hanover took over the Tree Lighting Ceremony, which would continue to grow in the following years.

This year Santa arrived on a new fire engine and saw just over 2,200 children. December was warmer than usual and lines were long at times. Many first year babies visited, not all were sure of this Santa guy. Many four generation families visited Santa.


November 25th was a cold morning, but still a great day for a parade. It was well attended and even had members of the Hanover High School “Elf” musical participating. Visitors from all over the country visited with Santa during the season with over 2,100 children this year.


For the anniversary year Santa told the fire department that he didn’t need to borrow their engine since he was bringing a horse drawn sleigh to make his arrival to the 80 year old cabin.

This was another milestone year for the cabin as it celebrated it’s 80th year. Along with the usual Utz chips and candy canes, a commemorative button pin was given. Showing a recent photo of the cabin with children visiting. Nearly 2,600 children came to visit Santa, with families remaining patient during long lines. Moments were cherished with children clutching their lists for Santa. Some lists were written, some were made with stickers, others were typed and a few were even on iPads and tablets.

Even though we were celebrating the cabin’s milestone, it also was showing its age as it struggled to be transported to the square. The Hanover Christmas Committee had made the difficult decision to retire the 1937 cabin. This news was announced prior to the Christmas season which was covered by local news outlets as well as television. This awareness brought many to our wonderful cabin to see it one last time. One woman even came to see it and sit on Santa’s lap even after having moved out of Hanover nearly 60 years before. She was very giddy seeing Santa. Many others trekked to their hometown to visit the cabin. Coming from Florida, Colorado and California. Visitors from Austria even visited on the final day of the season. Three and four generations of families came and shared memories over it’s 80 years while some brothers recreated their Christmas photo from seventeen years earlier. Tears were shed, smiles were shared.

The announcement to retire the cabin was certainly bittersweet to Hanoverians and the committee was conscious in it’s plans for the next cabin. There was great discussion on the future of the 1937 cabin and when the ownership was questioned, it was confirmed to be the Hanover Borough’s since the Borough had it built in 1937. It had been decided that the cabin would not be sold whole and possibilities of reusing portions were researched. The Hanover Eagles graciously offered a donation of $47,000 to go specifically towards the cabin’s replacement. With such a wonderful contribution the committee was able to look at quality options to provide a cabin to last 100 years.


This was a year that was full of discussion and planning for the new cabin! The Committee sought to create a cabin that was close to size, shape and style of the 1937 cabin. Many details were hashed out throughout the year with a deadline of the cabin’s November placement. Materials, colors, roofing, windows, electrical, handicap accessibility, and many other features.

Once the rudimentary plans were confirmed and agreed on the 1937 cabin was dismantled to gauge what was salvageable to be reused in the new cabin. The 80 year old headquarters was discovered to be in worse shape than everyone thought. When the roof was removed the walls began to fall apart! Someone once joked that paint was all that was holding it together and when it was dismantled there was some truth to that statement! Lumber that was deemed salvageable was transported to be stored and dried in the idea of making mementoes.

A search was made for a company that built log structures. Through a bidding process Fitzgerald Heavy Timber Construction out of Thurmont, Maryland. Building of the new cabin was carried out at the Borough’s public works property and progresses steady for *****WEEKS******. Photos were taken on a regular bases showing how the cabin began to take shape and showed the craftmanship that the builders offered for the cabin. While the logs were brought in the corner joins were hand carved to nest the logs together. Through the building we shared wonderful stories of the cabin’s history with the workers and they began to realize how much this little cabin meant to the people of Hanover.

Many things were reincorporated into the new cabin creating a connection to the past and the memories it held. The iconic mailbox and “Santa’s Headquarters” sign were obvious things to reuse on the new cabin. Other things were more creative uses. The doors from the old cabin were stripped of their many layers of paint and cut and crafted into planter boxes that host trees with lights. These doors were not the original doors, but were replacements from maintaining the cabin in the 70s. In addition to door lumber, one of the original sets of hinges were used for the front door with a borough employee replicating the original for the hinge set for the side door. The original windows were saved and repurposed into photo frames creating a pictorial timeline of the cabins as you look from left to right in the new cabin. The fireplace, while not original, was still an aged piece of the previous cabin. Donald Hamme of the Historical Society and a committee member restored the fireplace and arranged for the mantel to be replaced with a board crafted from some of the 1937 cabin’s salvageable lumber.

From the beginning of planning for the new cabin, great care was given to make sure that this cabin would last for many, many more generations of visitors. Ways that this was executed included the log home builder chosen, a metal roof, permanent hooks for decorations, and updated electrical.

As many of the committee members never had to help design and build Santa’s cabin before, with each week of drawings and building progress, different features and components were tweaked and improved along the way. For example, the chimney was not in the original designs due to costs and height concerns, but with gracious donations and continued desire to mimic the original, a chimney was then added.

Features that were added or different from the previous cabin were a new ramp to make it easier for every child to visit, wood flooring with a new area rug, vaulted ceilings exposing the specifically planed beams for our cabin, and the new light fixture made from a Victorian tree stand.

Stay tuned for more……………