Chasing down the holiday spirit is just part of being a franchise for the Central Pennsylvania Ghostbusters.
“We come together to share our love of the movies and to raise money for the NHS Autism School here in Carlisle,” said Matt Ensminger of York.
“Carlisle is a really friendly town,” he said. “No matter where we go and what we do, people love seeing the Ghostbusters out and about. We feed off the energy in the crowd.”
Decked out in the iconic coveralls and proton packs, eight members of the regional fan club gathered Friday night on East North Street, the staging area for the annual Christmas parade through downtown Carlisle.
Hours of work went into getting the two replicas of Ecto-1 — the Ghostbuster vehicle — ready for the parade. Club members fastened strobe lights to the radio antennae and roof rack of each car and swapped out the blue emergency lights for festive green and red lenses.
One Ecto even had the classic leg lamp from the holiday movie “A Christmas Story.”
“If there are Christmas spirits … we are here to bust them. … Most of the time,” Ensminger said.
Friday’s Christmas parade in Carlisle marked the end of the event year for the club, which has made appearances at comic book and fan conventions, birthday parties and even weddings. Their only fee for service is a donation to the NHS school.
Down the street, the Cumberland County Corvette Club was showing off one of its vintage cars mounted on a flatbed trailer. It was the first time the group had ever tried putting together a float for the local Christmas parade.
“After our last meeting, we talked about showing off the charities we support,” said Brian Demnicki, who drove the pickup truck hauling the trailer. “This was an opportunity to get our name out there.”
Two weeks ago, club members went ahead and ordered banners listing the 12 charities to which they donated over $6,000 during 2017. The list includes Warm the Children, New Hope Ministries and Toys for Tots.
The plan called for group members to come together around 6 p.m. Thursday with strings of Christmas lights, decorations and a desire to have fun. “We used whatever showed up,” Demnicki said.
Within three hours, they had driven a vintage Corvette onto the flatbed, covered the trailer deck with a white cloth for snow, put up some Christmas trees and completed the showpiece with an inflatable Olav from “Frozen” and a Santa on a motorcycle. Then they strung up the lights and put on display some of the toys they plan to donate to Toys for Tots.
Their float was only part of a procession that included 20 Corvettes ranging in year from 1976 to brand new. Club members had at the ready 4,000 candy canes to distribute to children in the crowd lining Hanover Street.
Just down North Street, Tanya Smith, owner of the Middlesex Diner, had gathered her team of about 30 elves to march in the parade. They included her employees and their children.
“We are the Elves on the Shelf,” Smith said, referring to a line of holiday toys. The back story is parents invite the elves into the house. The elves make toys for the children. Every night the elves move to a different spot in the house and it is up to the kids to find out where when they wake up in the morning.
Friday was the first time Middlesex Diner participated in the holiday parade. “We all have children who are of age and can hand out the candy,” Smith said. “They understand the concept of giving.”
The restaurant staff was gearing up to distribute not only candy canes, but toys to the children along the parade route.
Meanwhile, a Santa’s Sleigh made of cardboard painted red was sitting near the intersection with North East Street. There were children around it dressed as elves and reindeer.
“This is first time sponsoring the parade,” said Paulo Oliveira, a regional manager for F&M Trust bank. “We are giving back to the community.”
Situated along the parade route on North Hanover Street, Dino Setta of Carlisle liked what he was seeing. “The parade brings everyone out of their houses,” he said. “This is how I grew up in Wilkes-Barre. The whole community came out to do this. You can feel it. Everybody’s all happy. The kids are playing. It’s Christmas.”
Celena Thompson of North Pitt Street was watching the action with her one-year-old son Jusiah and nine-year-old daughter Anylah. Christmas 2017 will be a year of firsts for her family.
Not only is it Jusiah’s first Christmas, but it is the first time the family decided to put up a real tree instead of an artificial one. It is also the first holiday parade that they could just relax and watch from the sidelines.
In the past, Anylah has marched in Halloween parades as a cheerleader for the local midget football organization. “I am excited for the kids,” Thompson said. “Normally they only catch the tail-end of the parade.
“The Christmas parade keeps the community together,” Thompson said. “We just had a recent death in Carlisle. It’s a chance to bring everyone back together.”
She was probably referring to the Nov. 12 shooting death of 35-year-old Rhyhiem Hodge. Christopher Jaquell Williams, 25, of Harrisburg, has been charged with felony criminal homicide in the case.