Christmas Night Celebration in Ashland on Friday, December 6

ASHLAND — Christmas Night in Ashland will be celebrated this year on Friday evening, December 6, in downtown Ashland.

Several local organizations, businesses and individuals will participate in the holiday event, which is coordinated by the Community Council of Ashland. The 2013 event will include children's workshops and scavenger hunt, pictures with Santa, a model railroad display, food and other sales, hay rides, storyteller Shawn Middleton, the lighting of the town Christmas tree, and a Santa's Gift Bag Raffle to benefit the local food pantry.

Most events will take place between 5 and 6:45 p.m. on Main Street and Highland Street. Pictures with Santa are offered for a $1 donation by the Friends of the Ashland Town Library, at the Library, 41 Main Street, at the main intersection in the village. Also at the Library, the Pond and Peak Reading Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting literacy, will be sponsoring a storybook giveaway. Each child can choose a storybook of their liking. Next door, at the Legion Hall, the American Legion post will host a Christmas Stroll, which will include food, drink and a place to warm up.

The Meredith Village Savings Bank holds a free Christmas tree ornament workshop for children at its Ashland office, at the corner of Riverside Drive and Highland Street. Next to the bank at 12 Highland Street is the Ashland Community Center, which will have a Bread Basket Raffle and the annual Cookie Walk, with cans of cookies, mostly home made, for sale at $3 per can. (Buyers get to pick their own cookies.) The Community Center is also the site of the Santa's Gift Bag Raffle to benefit the Ashland Food Pantry. Non-perishable food items can brought to the Center between noon and 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 5 and Friday, December 6. One raffle ticket will be given for each qualifying food item donated to the Food Pantry. The raffle includes gift bags for both adults and children 12 and under. The winning tickets will be announced at the tree lighting at the end of the evening.

A Corn Chowder Supper to benefit the Food Pantry will be served in St. Mark's Parish Hall, at 16 Highland Street next to the Community Center. The supper, including chowder, crackers and beverage, costs just $3. Horse drawn hay rides, sponsored by the Community Center, will load up in the Town Hall parking lot, just beyond St. Mark's Church, at 20 Highland Street. Donations will be appreciated, but are not required for the hay rides which will be given from 5 to 8 p.m. The hay ride can be taken up Highland Street to the Cheney House, 82 Highland Street, where the popular Lionel Train display by Anthony Hoerter will be on view.

Returning to Main Street, visitors will find the Class of 2015 of the Ashland School selling raffle tickets, hot dogs and water on the sidewalk in front of the Ashland Insurance Center at 44 Main Street. Tickets are available for $5 each, or five for $20, for a box full of prizes worth over $400. The raffle winner will be announced at the tree lighting ceremony. The wreaths that have been retired from the town utility poles to make room for the new holiday banners are also available for a donation at this site. The local Girl Scout troop will display Christmas Greetings posters in the storefront of the former Ashland Hardware at 58 Main Street.

The Ashland Baptist Church Dining Hall at 57 Main Street is a focus of the evening event. The Ashland Area Recreation Association will give out free coffee and hot chocolate and also sell food. The Ashland Historical Society will display historic photos of Winter in Ashland. The Parks & Recreation Department will hold a Little Ones Workshop to make pine cone birdfeeders. The Dining Hall is also the starting place for a scavenger hunt, organized by the Parks & Recreation Department for children, who will search the downtown for clues to win prizes.

The Community Council and the Friends of the Library will sponsor Storytelling With Shawn, featuring the holiday tales of storyteller and author Shawn Middleton. These interactive and participatory stories will include pirates and princesses, world tales, fables, fairy tales and original favorites. The performance, suitable for all ages, will begin at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary of the Ashland Baptist Church. (Donations will be appreciated, but are not required.)

The celebration concludes at 8 p.m. in Memorial Park, at the corner of Main Street and Riverside Drive. Christmas carols will be sung. The prize winners for the Gift Bag Raffle and the Class of 2015 Raffle will be announced. And, with the help of Santa Claus, the town Christmas tree will be lit.