FAR FROM THE NORTH POLE – To help folks get their elf on and their ho-ho’s humming, Charles Town officials are reviving a city holiday tradition of yore this Christmas season.
The Cheer Booth is back in the city’s downtown.
Starting Saturday, Nov. 27, the red and green-trimmed booth, mounted on a makeshift trailer sleigh (use your imaginations, people), will be piping out holiday tunes parked along Charles Town’s commercial thoroughfare.
Cranking up the choir on Fridays and on weekends, the Cheer Booth will be making merry music while parked in different curbside spots along the downtown’s West Washington Street, reported Liz Cook, the city’s instigator and coordinator of downtown activities.
Given today’s modern musical streaming technology from the sky, tune requests will be welcome whenever the booth is occupied, Cook said. A sultry street-side “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt, anyone?
“The purpose of the booth is to spread holiday cheer in downtown Charles Town,” Cook explained in all seriousness before a formal announcement Monday evening across from City Hall. “It plays music, provides the holiday music throughout downtown.”
The Cheer Booth will also give members of civic groups and charities a place to hang out—a holiday clubhouse, if you will—and grub for spare-change donations. Many mickles make a muckle, as the penny-pinching proverb goes.
No Scrooges, of course. But any organization with goodwill toward men (and women and children and cuddly critters) can take a turn in the booth, Cook pointed out.
Once upon a time, the Cheer Booth was a popular downtown Christmas season feature and attraction about 20 years ago and for many decades before that, Cook said.
“I remember it as a kid,” she continued on, carbon dating herself. “It used to sit in front of [the long out of business] Penneys and Feagan’s” current jewelry store on West Washington.
Downtown hang-arounds have been whispering about reviving the booth tradition “for a while,” Cook offered coyly. “We’ve been keeping it a secret,” she then added a bit more bluntly of the booth’s revival this year.
Moments later, jolly-old Mayor Bob Trainor, accompanied by the city’s aldermen and alderwomen, officially spilled the beans. He did so snipping a candy cane ribbon—with a silly pair of oversized scissors, of course—to kick off the merrymaking.
“I’m very excited to bring the Cheer Booth back,” the mustachioed mayor declared, wearing a velvety maroon sport coat for the occasion.
Compared to his goofy council colleagues, Trainor preserved at least a sparkle of decorum for the affair. Councilman Jeff Hynes came wearing a flappy elfin hunter’s cap and a garish Santa sweater—the kind your cluelessly daft uncle shows up in for the holiday ham. Councilwoman Julie Philabaum appeared as a gender-bender Santa. Buttoned-downed, suit-and-tie Councilman Jim Kratovil doffed a tinseled trimmed, baby blue stovepipe hat with a giant cutout snowflake. Bushy bearded Councilman Kevin Tester came, well, pretty much as his everyday St. Nick self.
Santa seemed to be everywhere, like a touch of magic.
Meanwhile, mugging a live Facebook feed as a ceremonial emcee to unveil the Cheer Booth, City Manager Daryl Hennessy pointed out the smiling local luminaries present. Maintenance workers in the city’s workshop got a shout-out for scurrying to assemble and paint the sturdy booth in about two weeks.
“Come by and hear the music, do a little bit of shopping,” Hennessy said, with a merchant’s Freudian slip “spend a little bit of money in downtown.”
Charitably, he didn’t overlook the donation opportunities, however.
Popping the big question on pins and needles: Will the real Santa, or at least an authentic elf, be taking a turn inside the booth?
“That could happen,” Cook said, building up some anticipation. “We’re definitely going to have some events where they’ll show up. So they’ll probably come over and visit the booth and all of that.”