The Heritage Society of Essex and Middle River has decked the halls, and the Boulevard, just in time for the Annual Essex Tree Lighting and Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Museum.

This free, family-friendly event will feature gifts for the kids, snacks, the Chick Fil A Martin Plaza Cow, and live music from Smooth Groovin’ Karaoke with Leon Moses and MC Karie May. All children can visit with a very special guest, Santa Claus, who will arrive courtesy of the Essex Volunteer Fire Company.

This year’s tree has been generously donated by Frostee Tree Farm owner Paul Stiffler in memory of its founders, George and Helen Winter, who ran the business for more than 30 years.

“The tree lighting is not just an annual Museum event, but an important community event. It showcases the Museum and all the hard work and efforts of our volunteers,” said Heritage Society Vice President George Weiss. “Our organization works all year long doing fundraising to bring the community together for the celebration of this special holiday.”

“We would like to thank all the people, volunteers and community leaders that made this event possible,” added Weiss. “We are especially thankful to Cliff and Debbie O’Connell of Cliff’s Hi-Tech and The CORE Group for their support and generosity.”

In addition to the O’Connells and Stiffler, the tree lighting committee sponsors include Don Crockett from Rockin’ on the River and Sam Weaver of Weaver’s Marine Service and Back River Restoration Committee. The tree took several days and many trips on Cliff’s bucket truck to decorate.

“We are really happy to sponsor the Heritage Society’s Christmas Tree Lighting again this year. I have been really impressed with the Tree Lightings the past few years. I love seeing everyone gather together on the Boulevard,” said Cliff O’Connell. “When I was a kid, I used to remember riding up and down the Boulevard and seeing people out everywhere. There were thriving businesses, and now the museum is one of the only attractions here. It’s great seeing the community come together for an event like this.”

During the event, visitors can grab a snack and take a tour of the Museum’s beautifully decorated Avenue of Shops. The music room, toy store, general store, candle shop and post office are all decked out for the holidays, courtesy of Lifetime Members Sandy Gruzs, who is also the Building Maintenance Director, and Weiss.

New this year, the Museum will also be open on two Thursday evenings, December 13 and 20, beginning at 6 p.m. for holiday tours.

“We are really excited about this year’s Tree Lighting,” said Jenette Parish, President of the Heritage Society. “We look forward to seeing everyone in the community come out and share in the spirit of the holiday season. There are great things happening in Essex and Middle River, and we are happy to be a part of it. The support for our Museum over the past year has been overwhelming, and I encourage anyone who wants to know more about what we do to join us on Saturday.”

The Heritage Society of Essex and Middle River, Inc. is a 501 ©(3) non-profit organization run solely by volunteers whose mission is to investigate, collect and preserve the history of the Essex and Middle River areas for current and future generations, and to support and promote programs and projects for the good of the people of these areas. The first meeting was held in 1968, and the Museum has been open to the public since September 1975 in the former Essex Police and Fire station.

For more information on the Heritage Society of Essex and Middle River or the Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting, go to,, or call 443-579-5266.

Essex Tree Lighting and Holiday Open House

Saturday, December 8 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Heritage Society of Essex and Middle River

516 Eastern Blvd., Essex, MD 21221

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