WEATHERLY — More than 50 children and their families visited the Eckley Miners’ Village on Sunday for a fun-filled afternoon that included crafts, story time, a guided tour of the historic village and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
The village began in 1854 when the mining firm of Sharpe, Leisenring and Co., later known as Sharpe, Weiss and Co., of Philadelphia began work on the Council Ridge Colliery. The village was built near the colliery where coal was mined and processed for more than 150 years.
Watching over his extensive collection of antique toys and a miniature Victorian village on display in the Visitor Center, volunteer Bob Zimmerman pointed out his favorite pieces.
“The oldest ones date back to 1910, and the newest ones are from the 1940s,” he said.
Zimmerman and his wife, Jean, of Weatherly, are antique collectors and have shared their collection with Eckley visitors at Christmas time for years. “People, especially the children, get to see how it used to be,” he said.
The families, who were split into two groups, took a wagon ride to St. James Episcopal Church, where they made old-world crafts and snacked on punch and cookies.
“Every year we try to incorporate different crafts because a lot of these kids return each year,” said Margie Bogash, president of the Eckley board of directors.
This was the fifth year Eckley Miners’ Village hosted the Children’s Christmas event, which helps raise funds to keep the village running, said Bogash, adding that the village’s 75 volunteers are a huge help.
After stuffing a paper tube with candy, 9-year-old Christopher Peiser of McAdoo wrapped the “popper” in red tissue paper and tied ribbons on both ends. Christopher joined his little sister, Lyla, 3, and 1 1/2-year-old brother, Julian, as they made their way from one craft table to another.
“This is something really nice to do on a Sunday,” said Beverly Peiser of Jeansville. Peiser, who is the grandmother of the Peisner children, accompanied her daughter-in-law, Linda Peiser, and her six other grandchildren to the event. “We’re always looking for something to do with them.”
In a stately Victorian mansion at the beginning of the village, volunteers hosted a “Victorian Christmas” event, also to benefit Eckley Miners’ Village. Every room in the downstairs part of the house was filled with unique crafts and gifts to purchase.
Sporting a top hat and tails, Vincent Kundrik of Upper Lehigh greeted guests at the door.
“This house belonged to the mine owner, Richard Sharpe, and was the nicest looking Victorian house in town,” said Kundrik.
Dressed in an original 1870’s bustle gown and long black gloves, volunteer Moria Petchel of McAdoo offered tea and cookies in the parlor. She and Kundrik are history re-enactors at the village, entertaining visitors throughout the year.
“I love it,” Petchel said of her role as a re-enactor. “If I could wear a corset every day, I would.”