“Rock”ing around the Christmas tree

Christmas Market builds community connection through holiday cheer


The Slippery Rock Christmas Market will take place Nov. 21 from 4-7:30 p.m. in Gateway Park.

With food, crafts and entertainment provided by numerous Slippery Rock businesses and nonprofit organizations, Mayor Longo said that the market was a necessity in order to keep holiday goings continuing.

Typically, over the past couple years, Longo partnered with Slippery Rock Development to put on Light Up Night. However, there were individuals that felt uncomfortable with the street festival idea.

Still wanting to keep the holiday spirit alive, Longo invited local businesses, vendors and nonprofits to share a sense of community during the holiday season. Santa Claus will ride around town on a float and the lighting of the Christmas tree donated by the Kovacik family of Ginger Hill, will still take place.

This year, two trees will be lit in the town, the other one being a 35-foot artificial tree from the Hospitality and Tourism program placed in Memorial Park.

“I thought it was really important that we give people who are comfortable with doing so the opportunity to go outside and have a safe time,” Longo said. “Typically, this time of year is chalked full of bright lights, beautiful tress and garland. We wanted to offer that to the townspeople.”

Since Longo came into office a few years ago, the Holiday Festival has grown exponentially. With hopes of allowing growth within the community, Longo wants to give the townspeople and students the ability to enjoy and appreciate something during the pandemic.

“A few years ago there was a little bit of hesitancy, but we have beaten the odds and they have been a big success,” Longo said. “What I hope the community will gain from this is an opportunity to share good company with their friends and neighbors. [It’s] something to look forward to in a time where otherwise there isn’t a whole lot to look forward to. Things are very doom and gloom right now and hopefully this is something that will lift the spirits of folks.”

Aside from providing an uplifting opportunity for the community, the Christmas Market also serves as an opportunity to stimulate the local economy. Local vendors and business owners will be able to make a profit selling their products and services.

Longo also invited Slippery Rock area charities and nonprofit organizations such as the Butler County Alliance for Children, Toys for Tots, Slippery Rock Community Library, Girls and Boys Basketball Boosters and Slippery Rock Baseball Association.

“We are going to see this stimulate our local economy, help to keep some of these businesses open, and help some of these organizations to continue to operate in their nonprofit and charity capacity,” Longo said.

For students at the university nearing finals week, Longo hopes that the Christmas Market acts as an opportunity for students to have a stress reliever.

“People are separated from their families and loved ones for a number of reasons and students are far from home,” Longo said. “They need to have something to look forward to and obviously we are dealing with COVID-19 that has definitely drawn some separation between people.”

Longo has looked forward to the holiday event every year and the sense of community that it brings. He hopes to see families come and invite other family members from out of town to celebrate with the Slippery Rock Borough.

“[I look forward to] showcasing all the great things about the town, our people, our businesses, our charities and nonprofits,” Longo said. “[To] have that Christmas cheer that we always see in Hallmark movies.”

Longo notes that it is important to understand the team effort behind the event and achievements of the community over the years.

“[It] wouldn’t be possible without business owners and individuals who contribute to the whole and make things like this possible,” Longo said. “I want to thank them and everybody who are participating and supporting in any capacity.”

Those interested in attending the Christmas Holiday Market can do so while still following social distancing guidelines in the outside environment.

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Hope is a senior converged journalism major entering her third year on The Rocket staff and her second year as campus life editor. Previously, she served as assistant campus life editor after contributing to the campus life section her freshman year. After graduation, she hopes to report for a paper either in local journalism or city news. Outside of The Rocket, Hope is also part of the JumpStart Mentor Program, the Student Organization of Latinos Hispanics and Allies (SOL) and Lambda Pi Eta.


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