Imagine a town where every storefront is decorated for the holidays, Christmas lights beam from each streetlamp and children wait eagerly to sit on Santa’s lap.
You might think you’re in a Hallmark Christmas movie.
A website, Travel Awaits, recently put created a list of “The 10 Pennsylvania Towns That Make You Feel Like You’re in a Hallmark Christmas Movie.”
And Tunkhannock in Wyoming County was No. 1 on the list.
Nancy Parlo, director of the Tunkhannock Business and Professional Association, was thrilled but not surprised.
“Just walk through the town in December and everything looks magical,” Parlo said. “The magic comes from the store owners who decorate their fronts, the volunteers who put lights on all of the lamp posts, and, of course, the kids who are always so excited.”
Tunkhannock’s main holiday event, “Christmas In Our Hometown,” usually lands on the first weekend in December and features carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, a cookie walk, ice carvings, dances in store windows, a live Nativity scene and, of course, Santa.
But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the holiday festivities this year will be scaled back.
“The streets will still be decorated, we are still going to have the ice sculptures,” Parlo said. “Our goal is to keep everyone safe. Obviously we won’t be able to do things like the carriage rides, but we still have a lot of things planned with the Dietrich Theater.”
The Dietrich’s executive director, Erica Rogler, said the region’s backdrop makes you feel like you’re in a film.
“The town is also so beautifully decorated,” she said. “The stores look like mini department stores in New York City.”
What makes Tunkhannock a Hallmark Christmas movie town is the abundance of holiday events between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
At the Dietrich, the annual cookie walk is set for today, and a holiday workshop for the kids is set for Saturday. On Dec. 15, the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” will play for free on all the screens, and the theater will host a “12 Movies of Christmas” film festival, screening a different Christmas movie each day from Dec. 4 to 17.
And StoneHedge Golf Course, about 5 miles outside town, is transformed into a spectacular light show, the Festival of Lights. Visit www.playstonehedge.com for times and cost.
Events such as the Santa and Mrs. Claus’ Train, Breakfast with Santa, the library’s Christmas Show and Tunkhannock United Methodist Church’s Journey to Bethlehem won’t be held this year because of the pandemic.
“The Christmas spirit still runs pretty good here,” Tunkhannock Mayor Stacy Huber said. “Although we can’t have all the activities, I’m sure people will still come out for all the shopping and the restaurants, which provides a boost to the community.”