About 7,000 people live in Frostburg year-round, but nearly 6,000 students attend Frostburg State University. So, this is a situation where a “college town” really is about both the college AND the town. The campus and the community are very much intertwined, but never more than during the holiday season. Around here, they like to say, “Frostburg: It’s just cooler here.” And they’re not kidding. Frostburg is super-festive from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, but there’s one particular day when they take it totally over the top … and that’s the first Saturday of December, when the whole town AND the entire university show up for “Storybook Holiday.” It’s a big awareness campaign for the university’s Children’s Literature Centre, and this year all the magic will happen on Saturday, December 3.
Here's what you can expect to see in Frostburg at this time of year:
As you might have guessed, I think that elves are the most important part of Christmas. But I’ve never been anywhere in the universe that celebrates us quite like Frostburg does. We real elves keep a low profile, so the students at FSU transform into honorary elves to spread joy throughout the town. You can have Breakfast with the Elves at the historic Hotel Gunter (which has an old jail in its basement … just in case the Christmas fun gets out of hand, I guess?) or join them in the Elves’ Secret Workshop, where kids can write letters to Santa, get their photo with an elf, or vote for the Best Elf (ahem … JOLLY JINGLEBUTTON). But the very, very, very best part of the day is the Elf Olympics. Events include all the things I’ve spent my life perfecting: cookie tossing, package wrapping, tree decorating, toy creating and even song serenading. It’s so much fun to watch! I asked Santa if I can recruit the best participants for our North Pole team, but he said they’ll probably exceed our maximum height limit.
I love-love-love to read. It’s one of my favorite activities. I did a short stint as a bookbinder in Santa’s Workshop, but they kept finding me curled up in front of the fireplace with a big cup of cocoa, reading the books I was supposed to be making. Let’s just say I got “reassigned.” The fact that an entire town comes out to celebrate books and reading just warms my little heart. There are Storybook Readings at the Frostburg Community Library, but I also love making my way to Frostburg’s independent book shop, Main Street Books, where this year’s featured author, Will Hillenbrand, will be signing copies of Santa’s Story.
THE PARTY STARTS WITH A PARADE … AND ENDS WITH A TOWNWIDE SNOWBALL FIGHT
Frostburg’s Christmas parade winds its way down Main Street, led by none other than Jack Frost. Contrary to what you may think, Frostburg is not named for that icy guy. (It was named for the founding family of this part of Maryland, who must have been very brave souls because this used to be straight-up wilderness before they showed up.) Anyway, Jack will kick off festivities by marching right down the street, but the parade ends with Santa, though, and I think we ALL know that he’s the man of the hour. You can find HIM in his Frostburg house after the parade is over. We all spend a few hours in merriment and glee, and then old Jack comes back at the end of the day – riding a fire truck! – and starts the town-wide snowball fight. I’ve been practicing pitching snowballs for a whole year and am totally confident that I can hit Jack smack-dab in his kneecap this year!
WHEN NIGHT FALLS …
Everyone turns out at City Place for the Festival of Trees, each one decorated by a different community group. The townspeople gather to sing Christmas carols, Santa comes to check everything out, and there’s a big cookie and hot cocoa reception. Then one lucky child – the artiste who was selected to design the program cover for the evening – throws the switch and the place is awash in beautiful light. And then we all head to the historic Frostburg Palace Theatre, which this year is showing “Miracle on 34th Street” as the conclusion to Storybook Holiday.
OH … AND THE FOOD IS AMAZING
We elves love a good snack – at any time of day – so I mustn’t forget to tell you about some of the best treats in Frostburg. I always start my visit at McFarland Candies, a family-run chocolate shop where they churn out incredible confections. I could spend all day here, but they happily ship their treats all over the United States. I’m also a fan of the Princess Restaurant, another family business that’s been in these parts for four generations. The owner, Lauren Pappas, creates what she calls SuperShakes all year round, but she does something special each holiday season. This year’s Christmas concoction is called Frosty the Snow Shake and – get this – the entire shake looks like a snowman when it’s served! What will these humans think of next? Also, pro tip: If you’re coming to town as a visitor but want to appear in the know, don’t leave without buying some “Frostburg bologna.” Available at B&B Country Meats, the bologna is something that residents send or take to their out-of-town families over the holidays. It’s not super-sweet or very caffeinated like all the other things I love at this time of year, but I’ll hand it to B&B … there’s just something amazing about this stuff! I’m not sure what Mrs. Claus will think when I show up at her annual party for the elves with this delicacy, but I’m a bit of a trendsetter. By this time next year, I bet all the elves will be into charcuterie rather than cookies.
Whew! As always, I crammed a lot of info into a little space and still have so much more I want to tell you. But let’s leave it with this: An invitation to visit Frostburg this holiday season or any time of year. It IS the coolest place I know, and not just because they love elves so much!
Until then, be good. You don’t want to end up on the Naughty List.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Mindy Bianca and our “elf-ployee,” Jolly Jinglebutton, helps us with our holiday messaging.
She’s on loan to us from the North Pole, where she works on Santa’s marketing team. You can read her full bio on this page (scroll about halfway down) and you can correspond with her at her very own email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. She LOVES to chat with the media, but she’s an elf and therefore works odd hours. If you send her an email, we promise an appropriately jubilant response within a few hours!