The WC Press Holiday Issue 2021

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these are a few of our

inspiration for shopping locally this holiday season








from the


Kate Chadwick shares some personal insight into this month’s theme

It’s a safe bet that whether you celebrate the holiday or not, you probably have a favorite Christmas movie—I know I do. (I also have some non-favorites: The Polar Express weirds me out, and I’ve never sat through A Christmas Story in its entirety, much to the horror of my Gen Z friends.) There are vintage classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, and modern-day ones like Elf and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve read Twitter arguments that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, but having never seen it, I have no dog in that fight. A couple of animated ones occupy my heart. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the stop-motion confection, is approximately as old as I am, and the first one that I remember watching, ever. A Charlie Brown Christmas puts me in a blanket on the floor at my grandparent’s South Philly rowhome with cookies (and possibly soda). The Mack Daddy for me is Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I’m talking here of course about the Boris Karloff-narrated TV special, not the live action and far inferior film production—with apologies to Jim Carrey. And in a tie with it would have to be A Christmas Carol, the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim. Don’t even hand me any other version. It’s more than the vision of Dr. Seuss, the music and the magical Whos in The Grinch; it’s more than the timeless, quaint charm of Victorian England in A Christmas Carol. It’s the themes of redemption in both that get me. As a person in recovery, it’s my firm belief that no one is beyond redemption, that anyone is capable of change. I’ve always looked at winter—and by extension, winter holidays—as a reset, a time of rest, recharging, and reassessing, complete with New Year’s resolutions if you must. Everything slows down in winter, and it’s in that quiet that we can reconnect not only with loved ones, but with ourselves. And what a backdrop West Chester will present this holiday season; it’ll be downright Bedford Falls-like! In the absence of the Christmas parade this year, the borough will instead be aglow with lights, and Kelly Murray gives us all the shiny details. If you’re a fan of trains, as I am, you’ll love Danielle Davies’ story on the West Chester Railroad—a joy in its own right, it’s doubly so with Santa as a passenger and Christmas tree shopping at this time of year. And as always, our local shopping guide offers inspiration to even the most gift idea-challenged among us [right here]. Thank you for reading The WC Press, and best wishes from all of us here for a happy (and restful!) holiday season and a healthy new year. As George Bailey reminds us annually, it’s a wonderful life. —


Press PUBLISHER Dan Mathers

ADVERTISING MANAGER Nick Vecchio MANAGING EDITOR Kate Chadwick GRAPHIC DESIGNER Nazarena Luzzi Castro CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Jesse Piersol Danielle Davies STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Erik Weber @westchesterviews

“The holidays stress people out so much. I suggest you keep it simple and try to have as much fun as you can.” –Giada De Laurentiis COLUMNISTS Becca Boyd Jamie Jones Andrea Mason DJ Romeo Kate Chadwick Published By... Mathers Productions 1271 Phoenixville Pk West Chester, PA 19380 610-299-1100 The WC Press is a monthly magazine mailed to more than 3,000 homes throughout West Chester, as well as being dropped off to about 100 locations in and around the borough. For a free subscription — digital or mailed — visit



Our no-nonsense table of contents


#THEWCPRESS Our favorite social media posts from fans are getting printed


MARKET FORECAST Your planetary predictions with a particularly local twist


MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT The Chester County Hospital Lights Up Holiday Weekends


DESIGN DILEMMAS Our resident interior designer helps you upgrade your space


A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS Inspiration for shopping locally this holiday season


HOME BECCANOMICS Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking


ALL ABOARD The West Chester Railroad is getting festive for the holidays


FAR AND WIDE Jamie Jones takes your travel queries


PHOTO HUNT Spot the five differences and win a Barnaby’s gift card


HOLIDAY HITS Exploring new Christmas albums by major artists





@thewcpress #thewcpress Like and follow us on social media, then tag us in your posts for a chance get your work published here. Our favorite image each month () will earn its photographer a gift card to @barnabyswestchester














Market Forecast

Resident astrologer Kate Chadwick provides your planetary predictions with a particularly local twist Aries (3/21-4/19): December is shaping up nicely, ram friends— all’s quiet on the romance, family, and health scenes. Career, however—are you feeling stuck? Why not volunteer for a spell at the West Chester Food Cupboard? It’ll shift your thinking. Taurus (4/20-5/20): So…babies? For you, or someone close to you? December says we’ll see a baby (or news of a pregnancy) heading in your direction, bullish buds. Whether it’s a wee one of your own or friends or family expecting, get thee to H. Rose, stat. Gemini (5/21-6/20) No one matches your talent for running yourself straight into the ground, twin stars. Rein in some of that hyperactivity before you impair your health, or at least ruin your holidays. Up your organic veggie intake at West Chester Food Co-op. Cancer (6/21-7/22) You’ve got it going on this month, Cancer. If you’re paired, all is harmonious; if you’re single, you’re ready to mingle. Find yourself something smashing to wear at Tish (ladies) or Phineas Gage (gents). Leo (7/23-8/22) December is a mixed bag, lovely lions: smooth sailing If you’re coupled; dial back your aggression if you’re not. Your health’s on the upswing, which is swell because business is dismal. You need a massage. Get to Healing Hands a.s.a.p. Virgo (8/23-9/22) Slow and steady now, Virgo friends. You’re feeling good and all’s well in romance, but you’ll want to watch what you say at those family holiday gatherings. Pick up a book on etiquette at Second Reading. Or Baldwin’s. Or both. Libra (9/23-10/22) Family, finances, relationships—all’s quiet on the western front, which you love, balanced one. A little too quiet, maybe? If you have vacation time banked, take it. Hit Whirlaway and plan a trip outside your comfort zone. Scorpio (10/23-11/22) Oh, stoic Scorpio—you do play your cards so close to your chest. Tis the season, though, to express how we feel to those we love. You can do it. And if you can’t, stock up on some greeting cards that will do it for you at Kaly. Sagittarius (11/23-12/21) Your talent for foot-in-mouth disease is the stuff of legends, archer pals, but please watch your footing this December. Overindulgence in food + drink = accident prone. Make it a mocktail if you’re hitting WC’s bars for merrymaking. Capricorn (12/22-1/19) You’re all about making it rain, steadfast goat, and in many ways, that’s what the season has become. But your loved ones want your attention as well. Set aside time for simple things like strolling around town under the holiday lights. Aquarius (1/20-2/18) You’re a free spirit, Aquarian—sometimes the concept of diplomacy escapes you, but it’ll serve you well this month. If you’re looking for love, after the 15th is the ticket. Hit happy hour at Split Rail and see what happens. Pisces (2/19-3/20) If anyone gets the concept that the holidays are about the heart and not the wallet, it’s you, gentle fish. And if you’re single, you’ve got a love-at-first-sight opportunity this month. Get yourself to La Difference Day Spa so your external glow matches the internal one. –





photos Erik Weber story Kelly Murray



The Chester County Hospital Lights Up Holiday Weekends in West Chester will illuminate the borough this holiday season.


n one of the most iconic scenes from the classic holiday film It’s a Wonderful Life, an exuberant George Bailey—in a triumphant return to reality from a journey with his guardian angel Clarence—runs through his hometown of Bedford Falls bellowing “Merry Christmas!” to each and every building he passes. And all the while, as he makes his way through the streets, Bedford Falls is beautifully blanketed in a seemingly endless array of Christmas lights crisscrossing through the town’s center. It’s this depiction of the halcyon days of Christmastime in a small town that has remained etched in our collective nostalgia and is revisited each year when It’s a Wonderful Life airs on Christmas Eve. Luckily, residents of West Chester need not undergo such a journey through a harrowing alternate reality to experience miles of glittering lights like the ones accentuating Bedford Falls. Instead, all they will need to do is simply walk through the streets of West Chester’s downtown. This year, the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce (GWCC) is putting on the first-ever Chester County Hospital Lights Up Holiday Weekends in West Chester, a more-than-a-monthlong celebration of the holiday season spanning from November 26th to January 1st. This extended holiday program, to be held in lieu of the annual QVC Christmas Parade, invites area residents to come into historic downtown to enjoy a series of themed weekends, offering shopping and dining events, musical performances, holiday festivities, and of course, those enchanting lights. When the GWCC began planning this year’s holiday festivities in January, the thought of bringing the Christmas parade back to the borough was at the forefront of many of the Chamber’s Board members' minds. With over 40 years of history, the QVC Christmas Parade has become a West Chester tradition and a favorite among Chester



County residents. However, the status of the pandemic at the time put any prospective parade plans on hold, and the GWCC decided to go another route to maintain the safety of West Chester’s residents.

L e t’ s u n ite everyb od y a fter b ein g isolated for so lon g —really brin g everyon e tog eth er th rou g h a differen t kin d of e v en t th at’s free to th e com m u n ity. -Ch risty C osg rove “The Chamber Board and its community partners decided that we would reimagine what we would do for the

holidays for 2021. We wanted to do an outside holiday celebration in the borough, with the hope that things would be looking up and be in better shape by the end of 2021,” says Katie Walker, President of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce. Still, bringing the community together remained the foremost goal of the holiday festivities, while also creating an atmosphere that would inspire visitors to come back each weekend and support the local shops and restaurants. When brainstorming what kind of program would encourage community togetherness while still at a safe distance, the GWCC had a light bulb moment, if you will. “[We decided] let’s light up the town and bring the community together.” explains Christy Cosgrove, GWCC Board Member and owner of La Difference Salon & Day Spa on Paoli Pike,

about the impetus behind the Lights Up program. “Let’s unite everybody after being isolated for so long—really bring everyone together through a different kind of event that’s free to the community.” And that’s exactly what this year’s Lights Up program offers. Starting in late November, downtown West Chester will be transformed into a winter wonderland aglow with Christmas lights. Thousands upon thousands of lights will illuminate the busy streets and sidewalks enjoyed by both resi-

dential and commercial dwellers. This year’s program is a bit of a continuation of last year’s QVC Lights Up West Chester program—which was also created in lieu of last year’s parade—but on a grander scale. While last year’s program saw four blocks of the central business district bathed in Christmas lights, this year much of the borough’s business district will be adorned in bright, festive illumination and decor. Working closely with the West Chester Business Improvement District and a number of sponsors and commu-

nity partners, GWCC has arranged for lamp posts throughout town to be decorated in festive string lights and red holiday bows. Totaling approximately 165 lamp posts in all, these glittering holiday beacons will be found along Gay Street (from Darlington Street to Matlack Street), along Market Street (also from Darlington Street to Matlack Street) and High Street (spanning from Chestnut Street to Miner Street); the lamp posts along Market Street and High Street will feature an extra touch of holiday charm with illuminated garland and red bows.





In addition to the brilliant bulbs, greenery, and cheerful ribbon, the lamp posts will also feature signs of local West Chester businesses and individuals sponsoring the Lights Up program shown prominently among the decor—offering a bit of a spotlight on the borough's vibrant businesses and community members who continue to help West Chester thrive as a holiday destination within Chester County. During the 2021 Lights Up program, each weekend will offer a variety of holiday attractions, and recurring events every Saturday to transform the borough center into a hub of holiday cheer. Among these events is the Making Spirits Bright Music Series sponsored by First Bank. This musical program invites visitors to enjoy instrumental and choir performances outside the Historic Chester County Courthouse each Saturday. Local choral ensembles include The Brandywine Singers, Fugett Middle School Chorale, East High School Concert Choir, Pierce Middle School Chorale, Henderson High School Jazz Band, and the Henderson High School Chamber Choir. West Chester’s own Taylor’s Music Store will provide the equipment and sound. In addition to the Music Series, select stores and restaurants will also offer free hot chocolate and coffee, and will display professional gingerbread houses. Visitors may even catch carolers in historic garb crooning classic holiday tunes as they roam the borough’s bedecked streets and byways.

It’s a new event for the Chamber and we are really grateful for the support from the Chester County Hospital and our sponsors. It’s been amazing to be part of an event in West Chester that so many organizations and businesses want to be a part of and support. -Katie Walker

SHOP SMALL BUSINESS WEEKEND Officially kicking off this year’s Lights Up program is Shop Small Business Weekend scheduled for Friday, November 26 to Sunday, November 28. During this opening weekend, visitors are invited to experience the unveiling of the thousands of lights in Downtown West Chester and explore the borough’s vibrant community of shops and restaurants. Although scheduled to start on Black Friday, this isn’t simply a weekend designed for holiday shopping and dining. Along with the unveiling of the lights, parking in the borough will be free for the weekend. On Saturday at 2:00pm, the Making Spirits Bright Holiday Music Series will begin their program at the Historic Chester County Courthouse on High Street. Following the Music Series, promptly at 3:00pm, Santa Claus himself will make his first appearance in the borough—atop a fire truck, no less! On Sunday evening, the Menorah Lighting at the Historic Chester County Courthouse will commemorate the beginning of Hanukkah.





OLD-FASHIONED HOLIDAY WEEKEND Next up is the Old-Fashioned Holiday Weekend scheduled for Friday, December 3 to Sunday, December 5. During these early days of December, visitors can return to the borough for West Chester’s signature holiday event: the traditional Tree Lighting Ceremony— along with a slew of holiday festivities guaranteed to get even the Scrooge-iest sightseer into the holiday spirit.

It’s been wonderful to be part of this organization and to be planning an event that I think is so needed right now given the times that we’re living in. I’m proud that we can be part of leading the charge to bring a really joyful program to our community for the holidays. -C h r i s t y C o s g r o v e On Friday evening, visitors are invited to return to the grounds of the Historic Chester County Courthouse for the Tree Lighting Ceremony. Be sure to take a close look at the custom-decorated ornaments that will be hanging on the tree. The GWCC Board has worked closely with local organizations to create these ornaments not only as a means to decorate the tree, but also to shine a spotlight to West Chester’s close-knit community members. The Lighting Ceremony will be celebrated with performances from the West Chester University Marching Band, a capella group Under A Rest, the West Chester University Gospel Choir, and the West Chester Area School District Elementary Honors Chorus. Accompanying the musical performances will be displays of historic images of holidays past projected onto nearby buildings to create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere of holiday sights and sounds. After the ceremony, visitors are encouraged to stick around, as Santa is suspected to swing by to join the celebration.

On Saturday morning, Mr. Claus will make his rounds again—this time at the Breakfast with Santa event at the Chester County History Center. (Advance tickets are required for this event and can be found at the Borough of West Chester Parks and Recreation website: Later Saturday afternoon, the History Center will remain open for the Holiday Bazaar. For visitors looking to venture downtown again, the Making Spirits Bright Music Series will return at 2:00pm at the Historic Courthouse, along with another Santa sighting at 3:00pm. Later Saturday evening, Santa will make yet another appearance at the Marshall Square Park

gazebo for free photos—and fur babies are welcome to join in on this photo op, too. Pets are welcome if they are on leash.

FIRST RESPONDERS AND HEALTH CARE HEROES WEEKEND The following weekend is First Responders and Health Care Heroes Weekend, scheduled for Friday, December 10 to Sunday, December 12. This weekend is a thoughtfully curated collection of holiday festivities designed to celebrate the contributions of health





care workers and first responders. During this specially designated weekend, as well as throughout the holiday season, 100% of QR code contributions will be donated to local fire departments, police departments, emergency medical services, and health care workers. On Friday evening, a special Holidays Around the World celebration at Oscar Lasko YMCA will offer an intimate look at how different cultures celebrate the holidays. This family-friendly event is free but requires advance registration, and masks will be required. On Saturday from 11:00am to 2:00pm, everyone is invited to a Touch-A-Truck event in the borough where kids can meet firefighters, get an up-close, hands-on experience with a fire truck, and sign a thank-you banner to show their appreciation for firefighters and their service. On Saturday afternoon, the festivities continue at the Historical Chester County Courthouse with the Making Spirits Bright Holiday Music Series, and yes, at 3:00pm, Santa Claus will return to tour the borough on a fire truck.

We’ve had a group of volunteers working hard to get the word out to schools, sports teams, and various art departments to make ornaments that will be hung on the Christmas tree during the Old-Fashioned Holiday Weekend. -C h r i s t y C o s g r o v e

‘TWAS THE WEEKEND BEFORE CHRISTMAS Then it’s ‘Twas the Weekend Before Christmas from Friday, December 17 to Sunday, December 19. As the holiday draws near, the borough’s shops and restaurants will be open for any last-minute holiday shoppers stocking up on gifts. Festivities for the whole family start on Friday evening with Parent’s Night Out from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at the Oscar Lasko YMCA. Parents can drop their kids off at the Y to play while they enjoy a night of shopping and dining in the borough. Children ages 4-12 are welcome, and pre-registration is required. On Saturday from 10:00am to 2:00pm, the fun continues at the YMCA with Christmas Cookie Decorating for kids. (This event requires registration at Later that day, the Making Spirits Bright Holiday Music Series returns outside of the Historic Chester County Courthouse at 2:00pm, and to round out the weekend, Santa makes one last appearance on his fire truck before the big night on his sleigh. But word has it that onlookers will want to keep an eye out for an appearance by a very unsavory character... the Grinch!

CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR WEEKEND For the actual Christmas weekend, all will be calm, all will be bright, for there aren’t any events scheduled to occur through Christmas Day. (Santa will need a break after his long night





of deliveries, after all.) And what about the New Year’s Eve weekend? Plans are still underway to take us into 2022, but the Chamber is working closely with the West Chester Business Improvement District to create an adult-friendly, self-guided event centered around the borough’s bustling restaurants and bars. Visitors 21 and older will be able to sample specialty cocktails and appetizers on New Year’s Eve in participating establishments. In addition to those festivities, the lights will remain up and illuminated hroughout the borough and into the New Year for visitors of all ages to enjoy. From carolers to cookie decorating, the Chester County Hospital Lights Up Holiday Weekends in West Chester has a weekend theme for everyone. And the event is truly created for and by West Chester residents, as the entire program is volunteer driven. “[We’ve had a] group of volunteers working hard to get the word out to schools, sports teams, and various art departments to make ornaments that

will be hung on the Christmas tree during the Old-Fashioned Holiday Weekend,” shares Cosgrove. “It’s another way to bring the community know that they’ve had a hand in creating this big event. My hope is to have pictures taken of these ornaments to spotlight them, who they were decorated by, so that the community can learn about each organization as well. There are always ornaments on the tree, but this year, we hope that members of the community will drive past the tree and say, ‘That’s my ornament on there!’” And it’s this spirit of community that shines brightly throughout the 2021 Lights Up program. “It’s a new event for the Chamber and we are really grateful for the support from the Chester County Hospital and our sponsors. It’s been amazing to be part of an event in West Chester that so many organizations and businesses want to be a part of and support,” says Walker. “I’ve always [known] West Chester as this amazing community that's very supportive of the people who live here and work here. It’s been wonderful to be part of this organiza-

tion and to be planning an event that I think is so needed right now given the times that we’re living in. I’m proud that we can be part of leading the charge to bring a really joyful program to our community for the holidays.” The 2021 Lights Up program looks to be quite a holiday event—one that even a newly transformed George Bailey would be glad to attend. For more information on the Chester County Hospital Lights Up Holiday Weekends in West Chester, visit or contact the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce at 610-696-4046, Be sure to check the GWCC website, as event details may be changed or updated. For updates and details on special weekend events, follow the GWCC on Facebook & Instagram @GreaterWestChester and on Twitter @GWCC_PA #HolidayWeekendsInWestChester.





Design Dilemmas Andrea Mason of Andrea Mason Design is a professional interior designer who wants to help you upgrade your space

Can you smell those pies baking in the oven and see the lights twinkling? Adding even just the smallest touches to your home can create that idyllic holiday atmosphere to make this festive season that much more joyful. Here are a few modest changes you can make to deliver a big impression. The smell of fresh pine is one that will resonate immediately with people during the holidays—and throughout the winter season. The best way to capture this scent is with a real Christmas tree, or by hanging fresh garlands. Take good care of your tree this winter by watering it frequently, and preserve your garland by soaking it in water to make sure that it’s fully hydrated before drying and hanging. It also helps to mist your garlands every week or two to keep them healthy and fresh. Fragrance in the form of potpourri is a lovely way to bring a cheery ambiance into your home. It can also serve as a decorative piece when used in a beautiful bowl or jar. A perennial holiday favorite is a scented candle. Pine and Quill, located in downtown West Chester, has a wonderful selection of candles to shop—and there is the added bonus of supporting local business. Next, we go from smell to touch: the best feeling on these cold winter days is cuddling up with your favorite cozy blanket. Make your home a comfortable retreat with plush and warm materials. You’ll want to look for wools, tweeds, flannels, fleece, and sherpa. These are all textiles that feel snuggly and are also visually appealing. For the eyes, look for pleasing patterns like plaid and natural elements like greenery and snowflakes that will provide texture and will also play up the beauty of winter. Accessorize with your favorite cold-weather table linens, pillows, and throw blankets to bring warmth to both you and your home. There’s a rule in my house that Christmas music can commence the day after Thanksgiving. I get that warm and fuzzy feeling while listening to these nostalgic classics year after year. Another holiday favorite is lighting the fire and listening to the hissing embers as you throw another log on. Music playing, fire roaring—these are moments you can easily create that bring joy. The last embellishment is lighting, which will brighten any space and make it visually pleasing. String lights along your mantel and stairway. Add them to your garlands, to the tree, and to the exterior of your home. There are so many options with the popular white and multi-colored twinkle lights or the vintage round bulbs. You can also decorate with lights that are figurines like reindeer, snowflakes, or trees. Light is a key design element every day of the year, but there’s something extra special about the holiday season that makes it shine just a little bit brighter. Let’s bring charm and beauty to our homes this winter. By implementing these design details, we can create an environment that you will want to linger in. Cheers to a healthy and happy holiday season. –





these are a few of our


insp shop irati this pin on f holi g loc or d ally phot os b ay s y er ik w easo eber n





All the dogs 13 S Church St 484.887.0282

Lord Jameson Gingerbread cane $10 @allthedogslove

artistic eyewear 127 N High St 610.738.7150

Matsuda m1022 sun framES $595

@artisticeyewear HOLIDAYS 2021 THEWCPRESS.COM


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avante 668 Downingtown Pike 610.429.1800

olaplex hair rescue kit $56


Bryn MAwr running co 24 S High St 610.696.0115

Premvida Bolt Mini Massage Gun $250+ @runningcowestchester





carlino's italian market 128 W Market St 610.649.4046


Mama Carlino’s Calginetti $26/lb

charlie & co. 130 N Church St 484.266.0781

O’douds matte styling paste $22




• Custom Framing • Local Chester County Artists • Antique Maps • Restoration Services • Fine Art Printing

Visual Expansion Gallery

132 North High Street | West Chester, PA 19380 | 610-436-8697 |



colonial village

Prime Rib RoasT

929 S High St #23 610.436.9514

dare auto 301 S Bolmar St 610.696.7153

Full Automotive Detailing $325+






disc hounds 323 E Gay St 610.696.8668

VHS to DIGital transfer $99 @dischounds

giunta's furniture 513 E Gay St 484.887.8271

Kobo Holiday Pine Candle $39






kati mac floral designs 36 S High St 610.431.9414

the painted plate 104 Market St 610.738.0603

potted succulents



paint-your-own ornament $9+






phineas gage 29 S High St 484.266.7344

Faherty Legend Sweater Shirt $178 @phineas_gage_wc

pine + QUILL 23 N Walnut St 302.383.9759

Winter Whiskey Glasses $20ea




the shop on market street 134 E Market St 610.545.3732

The Shop Christmas Candles $14ea @theshoponmarketstreet

the 5 senses 133 Market St 610.719.0170

Soundwave Labradorite Necklace $138






the prana house 104 S High St 610.436.1407

Seasonal Herbal Blend “Mulled Herbal Spice” $21


ahdorned handbag $128


tish boutique 138 E Gay St 610.692.7500





visual expansion gallery 132 N High St 610.436.8697

West Chester-Themed Holiday Ornaments $18

yori's bakery


holiday cookie box $18

15 N Church St 610.344.9674

@yorisbakerywc HOLIDAYS 2021 THEWCPRESS.COM





Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking on her blog at


This soup was one of my favorites from the past year; it’s soul-satisfyingly delicious and let’s you do things like whisk yolks into bean liquid which make you feel like a kitchen wizard. The cookies won’t make your body grateful, but when you’re merrily transferring shaped cookies to the pan instead of frantically scraping sticky dough, your holiday spirit will thank you. – Tuscan White Bean and Greens Soup serves 8 1 large onion, cut into chunks 4 celery stalks, cut into chunks 4 garlic cloves, peeled 1/2 c. olive oil 1 (28 oz) can tomato puree 3/4 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. ground cayenne 6 c. chicken broth 2 c. finely chopped fennel bulb

2 (15oz) cans cannellini beans, drained, liquid reserved, rinsed 2 small heads escarole, trimmed and chopped 2 large egg yolks 1/2 c. finely chopped parsley 2 tbsp. finely chopped oregano 1/2 c. grated Pecorino Romano Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1. Place onions, celery, and garlic in food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. 2. Heat oil over medium high heat and add mixture, along with salt and cayenne. 3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a light brown fond begins to form on the bottom of the pot, about 12 minutes. 4. Add tomatoes and increase heat to high—stir occasionally until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. 5. Add broth and chopped fennel to pot and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer about five minutes. 6. Add beans and greens; continue to simmer until fennel is fully tender, about five more minutes. 7. Whisk egg yolks into reserved bean liquid and stir into soup. 8. Remove from heat and add herbs, cheese, and lemon juice. 9. Adjust seasoning and serve. Easy Roll-out Butter Cookies makes 33 2 c. all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 3/4 c. sugar

1 egg 16 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened 1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk flour and salt. 2. In the bowl of

a standing mixer, beat sugar and butter on medium speed until pale and fluffy, three to five minutes. 3. Add egg and vanilla, beat 20 seconds, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. 4. Add dry ingredients and beat on low just until combined. 5. Divide mixture between two sheets of plastic wrap and wrap into disks. 6. Refrigerate 30 minutes to several days. 7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a wellfloured surface. 8. Cut with floured cookie cutter and transfer to Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet using a thin metal spatula dipped in flour. 9. If dough is sticky or not holding shape, chill rolled dough for about 10 minutes before cutting. 10. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until just golden on the edges. 11. Let cool on sheets for about three minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool.





Hop on the West Chester Railroad this December to take advantage of their holiday adventures story Danielle Davies



Faunbrook B&B Guest stays d WeddinGs d events For 2 to 100 Guests

Book Your Holiday Parties Now! 699 W. Rosedale Avenue • West Chester, PA 19382 610.436.5788 • 800.505.3233 •




f you’ve ever seen The Polar Express, the 2004 holiday classic starring Tom Hanks and based on the 1985 book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg, you know that train rides and Christmas go together like peanut butter and jelly. Of course, we’re not talking about all train rides. We’re not talking about a ride on Septa’s commuter rail to another part of the state, or a quick subway commute or even the thrill of the high-speed rails of Europe—we’re talking about a good, old-fashioned trip riding the rails. For some, a ride on a historic railroad has become a holiday tradition, right up there with decorating the Christmas tree and baking cookies—something that’s just synonymous with Santa Claus and with the magic of Christmas. Whether it’s the call of the “All aboard!,” the nostalgic chugging of the train along the tracks, or the proximity to the holidays and all that comes with this magi-

cal time of year, a train ride at Christmas time is the perfect way to embrace the season.

The kids have a great time. Santa’s running all over the place taking pictures and all that kind of stuff

Of course, not everyone has access to a historic railroad. Despite the fact that railroads were one of the most important aspects of our American history, bringing profound changes to our country and pivotal in the nation’s westward expansion, the advent of extended highway systems and low profitability for some lines has resulted in many abandoned railways over the years. Fortunately for those in West Chester, we have the West Chester Railroad.

MR & Mrs Claus take a break from their busy schedule to pose with the crew.

Privately owned and operated, the West Chester Railroad isn’t a regularly used commuter train—though it once was a passenger rail connection from the Borough to Philadelphia. Instead, it’s a heritage railroad that runs excursions between Market Street in West Chester and Glen Mills. And while it provides plenty of opportunities for riding the rails throughout the year, some of our favorite trips occur during the holiday season. “Christmas is our big time,” says Joe Giacchino, President and Owner of West Chester Railroad. “The kids have a great time. Santa’s running all over the place taking pictures and all that kind of stuff.” West Chester Railroad has been running the Santa’s Express holiday excursion ever since its inception in 1997. The trip, which runs multiple times per day on weekends from November 20 through December 19, is a bestselling



photo by Nancy Vecchio

event for people of all ages, and perfect for creating new traditions. The Santa’s Express is hugely popular; when tickets go on sale on the first of November, they usually sell out quickly, filling up the train with approximately 230 happy passengers. “We get people that come back year after year after year, all the time,” says Beth Keates, President of the West Chester Railroad Heritage Association. “It’s just become such a family tradition with running it for more than 25 years that we’re getting generations coming back saying ‘We’ve been coming down to see Santa all these generations.’ It’s pretty neat.” The excursion, which lasts approximately 90 minutes, includes a 30-minute ride from West Chester on a festive, decorated train, followed by a layover in Glen Mills before the return 30-minute trip back to the borough. Of course, it’s not just any 30-minute train ride…Santa’s also on board.



“Christmas is our busiest time of the year and we’ve always gotten a great turnout of visitors just wanting a fun event,” says Tyler Haney, Vice-President of the West Chester Railroad Heritage Association. “We’ve got Santa, live music, hot chocolate and goodies, and it’s just a great experience.”

When the train arrives at the farm, passengers disembark directly into the tree field, where they can choose whatever tree they like

In addition to music from Greg Wright and accompanying musicians, all of whom play Christmas carols and traditional Christmas music on the banjo and guitar as they walk the train, Santa is available for the whole ride. At Glen

Mills, passengers visit the 1891 historic station depot building, where the original waiting room and ticket office are open for families to see in between taking photos with the man in the red suit. And as nostalgic and wonder-filled as the Santa’s Express is, it’s not the only holiday excursion at the West Chester Railroad. On three magical days of the year, they host a Christmas Tree Train where passengers disembark at Wiggins Tree Farm to select—and cut down—their own trees. The event, which began about 10 years ago, is unique. “We’re kind of like the first in the industry,” says Haney. It’s based on a partnership—and of course, the unique proximity—between the West Chester Railroad and Wiggins Christmas Tree Farm. “We’re one of the few railroads that are lucky enough to actually have a Christmas tree farm on our route,” says Haney. That proximity makes for a truly memorable experience. “Our partner-

ship with the West Chester Railroad has added such a fun and unique twist on the cut-your-own-tree experience. When the train arrives at the farm, passengers disembark directly into the tree field, where they can choose whatever tree they like,” says Mary Ann Wiggins, owner of the Farm. “The customer then cuts the tree and brings it to us to be bailed and tagged. It’s then loaded on the train and rides back to the station with them. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with the railroad to offer our customers this one-of-a-kind experience.” “Everyone loves it. It’s early—we’ve got to get the train up and moving two to three hours before 8am to make this happen,” says Keates. “It’s a long day for the crews, but they really love the history and love to be involved. Usually on those days, we have two sets of crews because it’s such a long day for the volunteers. But we don’t mind because you get to see the cheer on their faces.”

That cheer is visible on the faces of the young and old, many of whom plan for this trip all year. Besides a truly memorable little journey, and the added benefit of heading home with a freshly cut Douglas Fir, many riders also use the excursion to plan their next Christmas card. “Last year, we had a gentleman and his family that brought the big giant saw—a three-foot-long one—so that the kids could reenact and show off that they could do this with a Christmas tree,” says Keates. “They set up their whole Christmas photo that way. It’s just incredible to see what people will do to relive the experience of what they maybe used to do with their own family so many years ago.” Though some people do opt to bring their own saws—Keates has seen her share of chainsaws on this early morning trip—there are plenty available at Wiggins Tree Farm. What there isn’t plenty of, however, is space, so get your tickets early.

The train makes a stop at westtown station, where passengers can disembark and stretch their legs

“For the Christmas Tree Train, we will do slightly less,” says Haney of the number of passengers on the excursion. “It depends on what the tree farm has available and what they can set aside for us in addition to their typical customers who come by car; between 100 to 150 is what we can expect for the tree trains.” And though the Santa’s Express has been running since the West Chester Railroad began, the Christmas Tree Train is a newer—and more unusual—excursion. “We bring the trees back on the flat car. Whatever you buy, it’s got a tag on it. You find your tag, you put it on top of your car, and you head on home,” says West Chester Railroad YardMaster, Larry Jensen. “It’s something festive— where can you go and get and even cut down your tree. It’s like going out in the old days.”





The old days are, in many ways, what West Chester Railroad is all about. According to Keates, there were two different railroads that reached their final destination, or terminated, in West Chester: the West Chester Railroad, which began in 1835, and went west from Market Street in West Chester towards the Main Line; and the West Chester and Philadelphia Line, which began in 1858, and went from 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, terminating in West Chester. “These two railroads didn’t like each other,” says Keates. “So, they’d do funky things to make sure nobody could ever cross onto the other’s tracks. In West Chester, they purposely set their tracks a foot apart in height difference so there was no way that anybody coming from Center City, Philadelphia, could go through West Chester without changing trains. So that each of these railroads got their fair share of whatever revenue they could.” In 1874, The Pennsylvania Railroad, which was well on its way to becoming the largest railroad in the world (in 1882), gobbled up both of these smaller

railroads, leveling out the platform area in West Chester and enabling trains— and passengers—to continue their journey in both directions. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Pennsylvania Railroad began to break up and the rail line in West Chester was taken over by first Penn Central, then Conrail, then Amtrak, and then finally, Septa in 1983. Despite ownership, the line continuously operated freight and passenger trains until September 18, 1986, when Septa abandoned the line.

We have an incredibly rich heritage and history, and our goal is to keep it alive, and to keep teaching and training young people in the old ways of doing railroads. We’re preserving history

In the meantime, several railroad enthusiasts who had spent decades volunteering at Wilmington & Western Railroad heard about the unused line.

The cabin of the train evokes the spirit of CHristmases Past

“What happened was we knew some people at Septa, and I came up with the idea. There was an unused line they didn’t use anymore and we asked could we lease it,” says Giacchino. “They said we can lease the railroad, but you have to have the borough initiate the lease. We negotiated with the borough and Septa for two years to come up with a lease for the line. So, we formed the West Chester Railroad. That’s how it started.” “It’s a very unique relationship we have,” says Haney. “There’s no other scenic or excursion railroad that operates on tracks owned by Septa. It was basically a matter of ‘we can have the tracks all to ourselves, but we are 100% responsible for maintenance and repairs on the tracks.’” That work has included the initial restoration of the rail and creating a railroad yard starting in 1996, prior to starting excursions from West Chester to Glen Mills in 1997. It continues to be both labor- and time-intensive—the West Chester Railroad is responsible for over seven-and-a-half miles between





Glen Mills and West Chester, doing all their own track maintenance, tree care, engine maintenance, and coach maintenance. And it’s a tough job. “Track work is never ending,” says General Manager Skip Small, who has been with the railroad since its inception. “We pick the worst case first and go with it.” “Can I tell you how labor intensive it is to drive a railroad spike into a railroad tie?” asks Keates, adding, “A lot of the ties that are still in the railroad were put down last by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1965. Now we’re working diligently to pull up as many of the old railroad ties and replace them as we can.” Jensen agrees. “Sometimes we go out and put out maybe one or two ties. A couple guys will go out, dig out the old tie, un-spike it and pull it out, put the new one in, spike it back up, then hand tamp it until we can come along with a

machine and tamp it up a little better,” he says. “It’s something to see.” Like any project of this magnitude, there’s never an end to the work that must be done. In addition to the maintenance and excursions, there are also renovations on the horizon. “We’re working to create Glen Mills as a heritage museum,” says Keates. “Its roof is sound. Its interior walls are in excellent shape, but she needs a lot of work.” It’s a lot of dedication and work for the few dozen volunteers—along with about 100 dues-paying members—who operate as the heart and soul of the West Chester Railroad, which is 100% volunteer run. And yet, from the conductors to the engineers to the trainmen and brakemen, everyone involved seems sincerely happy to be there. “We have an incredibly rich heritage and history, and our goal is to keep it

The WC Press’ own Nick vecchio enjoying the trip with four generations of his family.

alive, and to keep teaching and training young people in the old ways of doing railroads. We’re preserving history,” says Keates. “We all dress the part. We wear the uniforms of the Pennsylvania railroader, and we all take great pride in being able to show the children and adults that come to visit us the golden age of rail, the time in the 20s and 30s when rail was at its peak.” “I love trains,” says Jensen. “I grew up with this stuff. Once it’s in your blood, it’s there to stay.” For a deep dive into the history of the West Chester Railroad, get yourself a copy of The West Chester Railroad by Kenneth Springer. Published in 2021, copies can be purchased at Market Station in West Chester.





Far and Wide

Jamie Jones of WhirlAway Travel takes your travel queries and offers the kind of insight only someone who’s been there ( time and again) can provide.

I can’t believe we are nearing the end of 2021. This has somehow been both the longest and quickest year ever! Life is finally beginning to feel a bit normal again. The kids are back in school, I am spending more time in my office (and out of my sweats!), and we are all anticipating a close-tonormal holiday season. Also, people are traveling again with fervor! Traditionally, the holiday season is the busiest time of the year to travel, and this year is no exception. There is pent-up demand to celebrate with loved ones, maybe in some far-flung destination. If you’re just now thinking about ringing in the New Year with your toes in the sand, unless you are willing to don a parka and head to the Jersey Shore, finding a spot under a palm tree will most likely not be an option, unless you planned your trip months ago. While jet setting away may not be in the cards this year, there have been studies that show that the planning and anticipation of vacation is just as, if not more fulfilling than the trip itself. Why not build the excitement now and gift your loved ones with a trip to look forward to in 2022? Following are some ideas to both support some of our local businesses and plant the seed for a fabulous trip. Éclat Chocolate – Master Chocolatier Christopher Curtin has traveled the world to source some of the best ingredients for his award-winning chocolates. Some of my favorite treats are the Destination Bars. Fancy a trip to Spain? Gift the delicious REU Caramelized Hazelnuts bar that is sourced from Tarragona in the Catalonia region of Spain, just 60 miles from Barcelona. A Taste of Olive – While we are on the topic of food, this West Chester staple, which happens to be just down the street from Eclat, offers oils, vinegars, salts, and other treats from around the globe. For those who have been to Italy and can’t kick the itch to return, Puglia is a wonderful region to rent a villa and stay for a while. It is also known for delicious olive oil, which can be found right here in West Chester. Stolen Sun – You’ll find this hidden gem located just north of West Chester. While they are widely known for great beer and the Son of Stolen Sun, Dylan Zangwill, was recently on America’s Got Talent, Jonathan Zangwill’s true passion is sourcing and roasting coffee. Jonathan has traveled extensively to get to know the farmers who grow the beans he uses to produce some of the best coffee in the area. Colombia is an up-and-coming destination that is filled with culture, history and… coffee! The flights are simple, and the experience is incredible. Throw a pot of Stolen Sun’s Columbian-sourced Hello Darkness on and let it take you to this diverse and captivating country. Right before the world shut down in 2020, we took our last international family trip to London. It was a Christmas gift of Harry Potter and London-themed treats that brought joy and excitement well past the 30 minutes of paper flinging on Christmas morning. The anticipation was just as fulfilling as the trip, and it was the best gift we have given our children. We plan to do it again soon, and you should, too. —





Presents under the tree always has a way of bringing you back to childhood. If you can spot the five differences in this photo, email your answers to and you’ve got a chance to win a Barnaby’s gift certificate.





Holiday Hits DJ Romeo curates a list of the tracks you’ll be singing all month long I’m switching things up this month. Rather than giving you my usual list of the hottest tracks in December, I’m instead offering up a list of some of this year’s best holiday albums — perfect as a gift or to set a festive vibe. @DJRomeo24 |

When Christmas Comes Around… -Kelly Clarkson The ninth studio album from GRAMMY-winning, global superstar Kelly Clarkson features a mix of new original songs and Christmas classics, alongside show-stopping collaborations with Ariana Grande (“Santa, Can’t You Hear Me”), Chris Stapleton (“Glow”) and Brett Eldredge (2020’s hit single “Under The Mistletoe”). The 15-track collection explores a wide range of holiday emotions and experiences anchored by Clarkson’s incomparable vocal prowess. Evergreen -Pentatonix Evergreen contains one new original song by Pentatonix, and it just so happens to have the same title as the album itself. Of the 14 songs, many of them are tunes not usually heard or thought of when someone mentions Christmas music. In what’s now become the norm for Pentatonix, this album is an example of excellence and innovation. It’s a wonderful addition to anyone’s holiday music collection. NOW That’s What I Call Music! Christmas Classics You can never go wrong with any of the “NOW” albums! NOW Christmas Classics features 20 of your favorite vintage holiday hits from Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, The Temptations, and more! This compilation includes “White Christmas,” “Santa Baby,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Silent Night,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” and 15 other heartwarming holiday classics. There’s Something About Christmas Time -Rob Thomas The 10-track holiday collection features a mix of new originals, classic covers and show-stopping duets with Ingrid Michaelson, BeBe Winans, Brad Paisley and Abby Anderson. The album is led by the trending new single “Small Town Christmas.” Thomas also gives his long-beloved “A New York Christmas” a 2021 update for the project, nearly 20 years after the single’s original release. The reimagined version will be featured in the all new Hallmark Channel movie A Royal Queens Christmas. “A Cody Johnson Christmas” -Cody Johnson This 10-track record features eight of country star Cody Johnson’s favorite Christmas classics from over the years and two originals. The timeless Christmas classic “Away in A Manger” will have you jamming out while you pop a sheet of cookies into the oven come mid December. Johnson’s also set to work reimagining the arrangements for iconic carols. “Every song on this record holds a special memory for my family. I hope my fans can make their own memories listening this holiday season,” said Johnson.



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