Candlelight tour among Havre de Grace's signature events [Editorial]

It took a hit because of the weather, but the annual Christmas Candlelight Tour of Havre de Grace drew a crowd when it was staged a week later than had been planned.

This year's was the 41st annual version of the event, making it among the oldest sustained events in the city. Few things are older. The annual Have de Grace Arts Festival is a half a century old, and the candlelight tour is coming up on that mark.

At 31, the Decoy Festival is a relative youngster.

Like the Arts Festival, the Candlelight Tour sought to be both a charity fundraiser and an event to raise the community's profile at time when the city wasn't regarded as particularly tourist-friendly. In those days, Havre de Grace was a destination largely only by virtue of it being home to so many pleasure boat slips.

Unlike the Arts Festival, the Candlelight Tour is also associated with another Havre de Grace institution, the city's oldest small museum. Often referred to simply as the Lock House, the official name of the operation is the Susquehanna Museum at the Lock House, and it pre-dates the Maritime Museum and even the more popular Decoy Museum. As historic attractions in Havre de Grace go, only the Concord Point Lighthouse has a longer track record as a property restored for the purpose of preserving local history. The restored Lock House was dedicated in 1982 and restoration efforts for the lighthouse began in 1979.

The two attractions, both of which date to the early 1800s, served as something of a foundation for what has grown into a respectable tourism trade. It's probably fair to say that the modest success experienced by Ellsworth and Madelyn Shank as part of the steward group that worked on the Lock House paved the way for their son, Mitch Shank, to help spearhead establishing the Decoy Museum.

It's pretty amazing how much can be sparked simply by opening a few homes for a holiday tour.

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