The following questions were asked recently on the Wonderline:

Q: Why has the railroad crossing at Division Avenue been closed?

A: It has been closed for construction work pertaining to the future quiet zone.

Q: Is the reason that the overhead lights haven’t been turned on, downtown, because the city doesn’t have enough money to pay for the electricity to run them? These are the lights that are already installed along the tops of the downtown buildings. I just noticed that they weren’t turned on the other night.

A: The city, as a municipality, has nothing to do with the holiday lights that line the tops of the downtown buildings – by way of maintenance, or ownership, or financially.

Those lights are the property of the York Chamber of Commerce through cooperation with the business.

York Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Madonna Mogul earlier explained that:

“Holiday lighting will look a little different this year but there will still be holiday spirit in York! This past June, Rhonda Veleba reached out to the downtown businesses with Christmas lights lining the rooftops to begin collecting feedback as we look to future downtown lighting during the Christmas season. This unique feature has been envied by other communities our size and has other cities asking how to replicate.

“Our current lighting was purchased by the Chamber in 2012 and each year funds have been dedicated to ongoing maintenance. After seven years, we find ourselves in a situation where many of the lights are no longer working because of weather, deterioration and recent construction projects. Due to the number of repairs needed, it is now a very costly project.

“Given these factors and what we heard from businesses as well as feedback from the Chamber Board of Directors, the lights will not be lit this year. We will facilitate a meeting to begin discussing the scope of replacing the lights and determine the best way forward after the first of the year.

“The Christmas trees on the courthouse lawn, along with the snowflakes, will continue to be showcased and shine on! In addition, merchants will be adorning their storefronts with seasonal decorations and lights. We invite everyone to come to York and check out the festive decorations throughout the holiday season. On Thursday, Dec. 12, we are calling on you to come and see all these fabulous storefronts during Stroll the Season. Shop, dine and appreciate the beauty in York on the 12th. As a special incentive, all receipts dated Dec. 12 will be four times their value for Holiday Rewards. The Chamber offices will remain open until 7 p.m., so consumers can stop in to have their receipts validated. Merchants always look forward to seeing their customers but there is something special about helping shoppers find the perfect Christmas gift during the holiday season.”

Q: Has the city auditorium in York been put on the historic registry yet and have any bids been taken for work on the building?

A: Work is still underway toward the pursuit of putting the city auditorium on the registry.

As far as bids for the work on the building, no bids have been taken as city officials are still in the early stages of determining what exactly needs to be done first, what should be a priority and how it will be paid for.

Q: What is the order in which streets are cleared of snow, in York? I was just trying to figure it out, last weekend with the snow and ice and stuff, what the order of business was.

A: Major arterial roadways within the city are opened first. These streets include, east to west – Nobes Road, Fourth Street between Lincoln Avenue and East Avenue and west to the Highway 81 bypass, Sixth Street, 12th Street from East Avenue to Washington Avenue, 14th Street, 19th Street and 25th Street.

It also includes those that run north and south – such as Lincoln Avenue, Platte Avenue, Division Avenue, Kingsley, Grant (in the downtown area), Nebraska, East, Blackburn, Delaware and Maine Avenues.

All the frontage roads to South Lincoln Avenue between Nobes Road and ½ mile south of Interstate 80 are included.

Q: Is it legal for someone to push all the snow from their driveway into a city street in York? My neighbor was pushing snow into the street last week and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to be doing that.

A: No. Section 34-41 of the municipal code says it is unlawful for any person to deposit or pile snow removed from private property onto any sidewalk, street or alley.

Q: As we were putting up our Christmas tree over the holiday weekend, my daughter had a great question. Why do we put up Christmas trees? I didn’t have an answer for her so I thought I’d ask Wonderline.

A: The evergreen tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals for thousands of years. Some used branches of it to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as it made them think of the spring to come. The Romans used evergreens to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia. Christians use it as a sign of everlasting life with God.

Nobody is really sure when evergreen trees were first used as Christmas trees, according to many sources. Some say it began about 1,000 years ago in Northern Europe. Many early Christmas trees seem were hung upside down from the ceiling using chains (hung from chandeliers/lighting hooks).

Other early Christmas trees, across many parts of northern Europe, were cherry or hawthorn plants (or a branch of the plant) that were put into pots and brought inside so they would hopefully flower at Christmas time. If you couldn’t afford a real plant, people made pyramids of woods and they were decorated to look like a tree with paper, apples and candles. Sometimes they were carried around from house to house, rather than being displayed in a home.

It’s possible that the wooden pyramid trees were meant to be like Paradise Trees. These were used in medieval German Mystery or Miracle Plays that were acted out in front of Churches on Christmas Eve. In early church calendars of saints, 24th December was Adam and Eve’s day. The Paradise Tree represented the Garden of Eden. It was often paraded around the town before the play started, as a way of advertising the play. The plays told Bible stories to people who could not read.

The first person to bring a Christmas Tree into a house, in the way we know it today, may have been Martin Luther. A story is told that, one night before Christmas, he was walking through the forest and looked up to see the stars shining through the tree branches. It was so beautiful, that he went home and told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.

In Germany, the first Christmas Trees were decorated with edible things, such as gingerbread and gold covered apples. Then glass makers made special small ornaments similar to some of the decorations used today. In 1605 an unknown German wrote: “At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlors of Strasbourg and hang thereon roses cut out of many-colored paper, apples, wafers, gold foil, sweets, etc.”

At first, a figure of the Baby Jesus was put on the top of the tree. Over time it changed to an angel/fairy that told the shepherds about Jesus, or a star like the Wise Men saw.

In Germany in the early/mid 1800s it was also ‘fashionable’ to have a forest scene and/or a nativity scene under trees (especially if the trees were placed on tables).

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