WEST GROVE >> The annual lighting of the West Grove Christmas tree is rather modest compared with those of the nearby communities.
As Mayor Steve Black said as he awaited the event in his candy cane striped tie on Thursday, “If the tree lighting is scheduled at 6:30, there’s hardly anyone there at 6:20. Then, all of a sudden. there’s a crowd.”
And so it was this year as well.
At 6:30 p.m. there was a substantial gathering in the middle of town — enough for Black to call in the children and have them help counting down from 10. And then the small tree was glowing.
In just a few minutes, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus arrived by fire truck from the station around the corner, just in time avoid the real call that had the trucks departing with sirens whaling.
But the big draw this year, as it has been the past few years, was the Santa Claus party at the Garage Youth and Community Center afterward. Upon arriving at the town square, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus led the crowd — at that point expanded to more than 100 — to the after-school destination of many local middle and high school students. There the children had the chance to whisper their holiday wishes to Santa and get a snack as well.
Garage Program Coordinate Murphy Bolton said the average droop-in after school is about 30. On this day the group came and cleaned the place, rearranged the furniture and laid out donated cookies and juice ... making all the arrangements for the event.
That’s the spirit at the garage.
Since its opening several years ago, the programs have expanded to service projects and — importantly — an after school program during which middle and high school students help the younger ones at Avon Grove Intermediate and Penn London Elementary schools with their homework.
The After 10 successful years serving students in the Kennett community, The Garage opened its second center in West Grove in 2011. Between the two centers, more than 500 students pass through our doors annually for tutoring, mentoring, community service opportunities, computer lab use, youth groups, and enrichment activities.