Volunteers spread holiday cheer at York City's annual Hanging of the Greens
Donning a red and white Santa hat, Jacob Swartz joined fellow volunteers to decorate York City with velvet ribbons and bushels of green in an effort to spread holiday cheer.
Swartz was among 50 volunteers Sunday who contributed to the 19th annual Hanging of the Greens, a holiday tradition organized by Downtown Inc.
"We all understand how insane this entire year has been," Swartz said. "Even just walking up and down the streets already, we're starting to see a lot of people seeing the cheer come to life."
In total, 100 lampposts were decorated throughout downtown York City, including around the intersections at Continental Square, Market Street, York City Hall and PeoplesBank Park.
In an effort to maintain the tradition while keeping volunteers socially distanced in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, event organizers capped the volunteer limit at 50 and provided masks to those who didn't already have one.
Small groups of three and four worked together to tie the large garlands along lampposts. Both families and organizations came together to finish the decorating.
Swartz, a member of the York College Young Alumni Council, said though his group had just started decorating city streets at 10:30 a.m., passersby applauded — including one person who said even Santa Claus would be proud.
"We need the Christmas spirit," Swartz said. "Especially this year, and so far it's definitely happening."
As part of the volunteer and donation effort, all ribbons and greenery were provided by York-based Schaefer Flower Shop. Additionally, Wagman Construction assembled the 8-foot garlands, and Printing Express donated labels, said Elaine Bonneau, the director of Downtown Inc.
"This morning was wonderful; it really did my heart good," Bonneau said. "I can't even express how happy I am to still have this event after so many years."
Although the annual Hanging of the Greens is a tradition that invites families and friends to come together to create new holiday memories, Bonneau said the event this year has extra importance.
"It means a lot for us to show pride for the city," Bonneau said, adding that local businesses and restaurants appreciate the efforts to beautify the area and welcome new visitors into the city.
"I think people just need some good cheer right now," she added. "All of those people coming out on Sunday, they have a lot of love for their city — and that's really important to embrace."
— Reach Tina Locurto at email@example.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.