Central Carroll: Celebrate with Santa and carriage rides in Westminster

On Saturdays in December, members of the community can visit with Santa from noon to 4 p.m. right in front of the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library, and then, catch a free carriage ride through downtown Westminster. 
On Saturdays in December, members of the community can visit with Santa from noon to 4 p.m. right in front of the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library, and then, catch a free carriage ride through downtown Westminster. 

The scent of pine lingers on the air and jingle bells can be heard, far in the distance. Here comes the carriage, bedecked for Christmas!

On Saturdays in December you can visit with Santa from noon to 4 p.m. — right in front of the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library, and then, catch a free carriage ride through downtown Westminster.


Heather Mullendore. assistant director of Recreation and Parks for the city of Westminster said she has heard many positive responses from those who participated in prior years.

“It is the season and with getting ready for the holidays, being able to see your town by horse and carriage is a unique experience, not only for the residents of Westminster, but also for people coming to town for the first time,” she said.


According to Mullendore, the expense of a horse-drawn carriage ride keeps many families from taking part. “But we do it for free, so we usually have a line waiting each Saturday,” she said.

Take your own photos and enjoy some family time without breaking the bank. After visiting Santa in his little house at the library, skip across the street to Locust Square and catch the Christmas carriage ride at the parking lot on Locust Lane. The carriage holds 10 to 12 people for a 10 to 15 minute ride, available from noon to 4 p.m.

“It’s special,” Mullendore said. “The kids coming to let Santa know what they would like for Christmas and then the parents and grandparents all joining them on a carriage ride is a fun experience. Each Saturday, we give away 25 stockings to the first 25 kids to visit Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and they are filled with goodies.”

In addition, on Saturday, December 22 there will be music on the library stage at 1 p.m. by Mary and Brady.

For more information, call 410-751-5501 or visit www.westminstermd.gov.

“The town does this as our gift,” Mullendore said. “It’s from the city of Westminster, our way to say happy holidays to everyone.”

Holiday Horn Concert

A Holiday Horn Concert will bring the joy of the season to Carroll Lutheran Village on Saturday, December 22, at 10:30 a.m. inside the Krug Chapel Auditorium.

“One of our residents, Phil Hooks, had organized this for about 20 years,” said Lisa Albin, Director of Communications and Public Relations at Carroll Lutheran Village. “This concert will honor Phil, who passed this year. The Reverend Dr. Sarah Dorrance was one of his students and she wants to make sure they continue to carry it on.

The Rev. Dr. Dorrance said about 20 horns will be playing in the one hour concert.

“I was one of his first students, way back in the day,” she said. “Phil Hooks taught many of the horn students in Carroll County. He would always invite them to play Christmas songs during the season before Christmas. We originally played in the mall and at BWI airport to soldiers and families coming home for the holidays. When Phil and his wife moved to Carroll Lutheran Village about two years ago, he moved the concert there.

The Reverence Dr. Dorrance said the concert will be called “Holiday Horns: The Legacy Continues,” to honor Hooks.

“The horn players are his students, associates and friends. Phil was a great mentor. someone who not only taught many of the horn students in the county, but once you stopped being his student, he continued to mentor and support you in many ways. For instance, he came with me to purchase a new horn 25 years after I was his student, spending a whole afternoon with me, trying out horns and helping me pick the right one.”


Dorrance said you will not find many opportunities to hear this many horns in one concert.

“Christmas Carols played on French horns … what better way to bring in the Christmas season?” she said. “When it is all French Horns, it is special. Brass is a unique way to bring in the holiday season.”

Carroll Lutheran Village is located at 300 Saint Luke Circle, (just off Md. 31) in Westminster.

For more information, call 410-848-0090.

Trains at the Mall

For some, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without trains. Members of the Four County Society of Model Engineers (FCSME) understand and are here to fill the void. For the fourth year in a row, they’ve set up their huge Holiday Train Display in the TownMall of Westminster. It is free to visit through January 5, 2019.

FCSME member, Stuart Braiterman spoke about the display.

“We try to have four or five trains running at a time, but we never have less than two,” he said of the HO scale set up. “We try to model it after how things looked in Western Maryland in the mid-1950s. We have farms, two churches - one with a funeral and one with a wedding - stores, farm equipment and a flour mill. We have a gas station, a motel, and some industrial buildings. There’s a nice variety.”

His wife, Lita Braiterman is secretary of the club.

“The display sparks everyone’s imagination,” she said. “People are just amazed when they see the level of detail. Some people have actually seen locations they know, like the Twin Arch Bridge or Point of Rocks. Other spots are idealized regions of Western Maryland with farmland and greenery and a cute little town with a train station.”

Stuart said members build their own 4 to 8 foot long modules and the club owns some as well. The modules are bolted together to create a fluent landscape, about 90 feet long.

“We have exacting standards,” he said. “The backboards all have to be painted with the same shade of blue, so they blend together in one continuous scene. It is amazing how everything works once it is bolted together. If you looked underneath and saw all the wires that run throughout the layout with signal boosters and other wiring, you would be surprised. We have people in the club with all kinds of skills. One of the advantages of that is that we always have someone there who can answer just about any question.”

Lita spoke of the layout.

“There’s something about trains at Christmas,” she said. “It is tradition… trains running around the Christmas tree. And this is the largest layout we’ve ever had. I think people will be delighted with the experience of walking through the layout, and we have a scavenger hunt for the kids, too. They love it. They run around the layout to try to find all the items on our list.”

FCSME serves Carroll, Howard, Frederick and Montgomery counties, but has members from other outlying areas as well. They are a not-for-profit, HO scale, modular railroad club.

“We are building an idealized scene that is, I think, exceedingly well done,” Stuart said. “Some of our people are really artists. The scenes come to life, and the trains go in and out of things.”


TownMall of Westminster is located at 400 N. Center St., Westminster.


The layout is located midway through the mall and is open on Saturdays from 10 am. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 am. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m.

They are open every day during Christmas week, except for Christmas day. Consult their calendar online at www.fscme.org for Christmas week hours.

To learn more, visit them on their website, or call 410-876-8870.

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