Country Christmas at the Robert Young Cabin may become a new family tradition for some of those who came to roast marshmallows and hunt for candy canes Friday night.
Twins Matthew and William Barker dashed around the cabin, quickly moving from one event to the next. First it was a hayride in a long-bed trailer covered in blue and white lights, then a chat with Santa, followed by the decorating of a few Christmas cards with friend Olivia Roberts.
They stopped for snacks, too.
“It feels like a country Christmas because they have good apple cider and cookies and we get to roast marshmallows,” said 10-year-old Matthew.
The brothers also talked about their family’s Christmas rituals, such as looking at lights strewn around houses and anticipating the moment dad says it’s OK to check their stockings. And with all the fun they had at Winged Deer Park Friday, maybe it will become just another way the Barkers can enjoy each other’s company during the holidays.
“I love spending time with my family,” Matthew said.
Of course, the candy cane hunt might be another reason they’ll come back. The chance of finding a bag full of the J-shaped sugary candy was what brought 6-year-old Haley Jones outside on a crisp December night.
Bill and Judy Boone, neighbors of Haley whom she calls her “adopted grandparents,” followed their little friend around the side of the cabin while holding their battery-powered candles and searching for candy canes.
Then Haley hopped up on Santa’s knee and told him her Christmas wishes and he gave her a small stuffed penguin.
She also got to sing some of her favorite Christmas carols, like “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman,” while aboard one of the many laps the hayride took around the park.
The whole event was something the three of them were glad they got to spend together.
“It’s just simple and beautiful,” Judy said.
As others like Dani Brucker, 13, and Van Tant, 4, took off in search of candy hidden in the dark, the Mountain Minstrels somehow kept their instruments in tune, despite the cold air, and sent out cheerful, Celtic, holiday melodies while the audience stayed warm by a big bonfire.
“It just doesn’t feel like Christmas if it’s not cold,” Judy Boone said.
There was a large turnout for the 8th annual Country Christmas with plenty of people lined up to visit Santa Claus and others crowded around the fire to roast a hot dog. By the looks on their faces, many of those families may return again, at least if the children have a say in the matter.
And if they hear of another impending candy cane hunt.