Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 16823
By Dana Ray
This series on Bellefonte’s Victorian Christmas will feature some of the special folks who make it possible, whether by their leadership or long participation. Often, it is the people that make an event truly extraordinary. Meet Romayne Naylor, one of the long time organizers behind Victorian Christmas.
The first and main thing to know about Romayne Naylor is that her smile lights up her whole face. She is a woman who loves life and people and Christmas. She can’t stop smiling when she tells me about planning Victorian Christmas. Romayne is a piece of Christmas herself, taking vivid pleasure in the holiday and creating magic for other people, especially children and families. “Christmas was always a huge holiday for us. Family friends, being together and celebrating: all the good things in life!” Of course, she is smiling widely when she says this.
Romayne is a Bellefonte Native and has lived here her entire life, something she is very proud of. “We were raised to be active in the community. My parents and grandparents taught me that if I wanted my community to improve I had to go out there and make it happen.”
Romayne Naylor’s first time helping with Bellefonte Christmas was as a high school student in the late 1970s, helping her mother paint storefront windows with Christmas scenes. “I remember that the window was festive themed, something with elves climbing a ladder to stack an enormous pile of presents. Another one had teddy bears under a Christmas tree. ”The windows were part of a Bellefonte initiative to draw in revenue for downtown businesses during the holiday. That initiative eventually came under the leadership of Historical Bellefonte Incorporated and became Victorian Christmas thirty-five years ago. [See article on co-chair Sally Houser]
At each step of the way, Romayne has helped plan Victorian Christmas festivities. When asked about her favorite part, she cannot choose one activity. In every case, she loves the moments that delight children and their families. “Christmas is really about the kids,” she says. At Santa’s Breakfast, Romayne loves seeing kid’s faces “agog with excitement.” At the Arts and Crafts Fair, she loves watching families sneak around to buy each other presents. “This is Family time, out enjoying a beautiful day despite any weather. They are together.”
And Victorian Christmas is not the only way she reaches out to others. Until her retirement, Romayne was the Emergency Service Director with the American Red Cross Disaster Relief in Centre County. And now, she continues to work with them as a volunteer coordinator. Her work is both local and national. Recently, she traveled to South Carolina after the severe flooding in Charleston.
For Romayne, there is a clear relationship between the kind of work she does in crisis relief and the work she does to make Christmas magical. “You are out there being there for people, whether at Christmas or in the worst moments of their lives. It is exhausting but it also keeps you going. It’s a wonderful feeling to know you made a difference in someone else’s life when they needed it.”
Learn more about the Magic of Victorian Christmas in Bellefonte at the website: www.bellefontevictorianchristmas.com. There are many events for the whole family, from live music performances, Christmas theatre, carriage rides, Victorian Home tours, breakfast with Santa, and much more!
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