Manayunk celebrates the holidays with ice carving, Christmas tree lighting

Main Street in Manayunk kicked off the holiday season this weekend with the bustling sights and sounds of Christmas at Canal View Park. 

On Saturday afternoon, the Manayunk Development Corporation hosted a live ice carving followed by the Christmas tree lighting and live performances in the evening.

It began with noisy chainsaws and industrial sanders ripping through ice blocks while Christmas songs echoed from loud speakers at noon. Ice sculptors Don Lowing, Peter Slavin and Rob Capone carved an ice sleigh in just under three hours. Small children, infants in strollers and parents looked on as the freezing mist sprayed into the air.

The artistic creation was completed by 3 p.m., just in time for Santa Claus to pose for photos with children and adults atop his brand new sleigh. 

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Holidays in ‘the best small town in America’

MeadowSweet Vintage owner Stacy Morris says Saturday was her first time attending the Christmas tree lighting. Morris opened her store on Main Street almost a year ago, on Dec. 14.

“This side of Main Street has definitely gotten more attention this time of the year,” Morris says.

The Sydney Hale scented candle collection has sold well these last few weeks, Morris says, and she has had to order more to meet the demand.

“We try to sell best and most unusual vintage with our inventory,” Morris says. Her store almost entirely consists of acquisitions from factories and foundries. A found ladder hung from the Morris’ ceiling horizontally, repurposed into a suspended wreath with pine branches twisted between its rungs.

Councilmen Curtis Jones Jr. and Bill Greenlee led the opening ceremony prior to the tree lighting on Saturday evening.

“Manayunk is the best small town in America,” Jones said. “That’s why I fought so hard with the zoning, to keep this area from being overdeveloped. I wanted to maintain its quaintness for residents.”

Local businesses participate 

Also in attendance was Manayunk’s Merge Dance Studio owner Crista Campbell, who says she expects an influx of new students at her studio in the coming months as people set their resolutions to get in shape. Campbell, a Wisconsin native and Manayunk transplant, opened her dance studio in July on Cresson Street. This weekend was Campbell’s first time involved in the Manayunk Christmas tree lighting as a business owner. 

Campbell’s studio teaches ballet, jazz, modern and creative movement for children and adults, along with having Zumba and a mix of pilates and boxing called piloting.

Campbell assembled a performance group called Merge Dance Company which performed at Canal View Park after the tree was lit. They moved to a flowing number with twirls, leaps and high kicks reminiscent of the Rockettes to the tune of Meaghan Smith’s “It Snowed.”

The Society Hill Dance Academy also performed a swing rendition of Winter Wonderland for the event. Manager Charissa Prince-Ferdinand says this is the Manayunk branch’s return to the Christmas festivities on Main Street after taking a a few years off from performing in the tree lighting ceremony.

Prince-Ferdinand says Society Hill’s dance lessons for couples and classes typically make for popular gifts around the holidays.

“The group classes are pretty social, and I think that goes a long way, when people communicate and socialize on the internet so much these days,” she says. 

The newly-lit Christmas tree is located at Canal View Park on Main Street near Gay Street in Manayunk. 

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