Redacted by James Robison
The Milton Evening Standard dated January 19, 1950 indicated that the Watsontown Police Christmas Program was inaugurated during the 1949 Christmas season through the efforts of Police Chief Carl Reed (1908-1972). Reed had become the Chief of Police for Watsontown in December 1944 and served until a few months before his death. During that time Reed created a lasting testimony by coordinating the efforts to make the lives of less fortunate children and adults in Watsontown more bearable through the Christmas season. According to an article in the Williamsport Gazette and Bulletin dated December 24, 1952, the idea came to Reed while aiding small school children across the street on their way to school. For several years Reed noticed that for several weeks before Christmas “all of the kiddies were in great spirits and had hopes that Santa would fill their wishes and then after the holiday’s end the kiddies returned, some of them, usually the ones from less fortunate homes, seemed blue and unhappy.” Reed couldn’t take it anymore and had to do something. He began by asking for discarded toys and was amazed at the splendid cooperation he received. The local fire police repaired and painted the toys and the local industries such as Philco Corporation and Jasper Wood Products aided financially. After Reed constructed a real “Santa Claus Mailbox” just the right size for youngsters, the Watsontown Guild and the Watsontown Lions Club offered to underwrite the costs and women assisted Reed in seeing that everyone who wrote to Santa and left a legible return address received a nice reply. One heart-warming story was of a small girl who placed her letter in “Santa’s Mailbox” enclosed with ten dollars and a note explaining she wanted to help Santa in “spreading Christmas cheer to the poorer kiddies.”
In the years that followed, service clubs and civic organizations such as the Harvey C. Huff Post of Veterans of Foreign Wars and auxiliary, Clyde F. Mowrer American Legion auxiliary, West Branch Fire Department and Watsontown Jaycees and auxiliary joined with the Watsontown Guild and Watsontown Lions Club in helping Reed with this event along with numerous merchants in town. The Watsontown Police Department continues organizing this honorable tradition to the present day with support from the area churches, organizations and volunteers.
In addition to collecting toys for the less fortunate children and baskets of food and clothing for the aged, Reed’s Christmas cheer spilled over into other traditions that many take for granted today such as Santa’s House with a pen for “Buttons” one of Santa’s reindeer. The Borough Council and the merchants of town also invested in numerous Christmas decorations that continue to grow and change with time such as the large cedars which are lit each year at Watsontown Memorial Park, the colorful lights on the street posts, the “People in the Horse-drawn sleigh” at the south end of Watsontown and the “People greeting passers-by on their front porch” at the north end of town and the most recent, the Nativity Star on Cemetery Hill. Truly, Police Chief Reed embodied the spirit of Christmas for the community of Watsontown and that spirit continues to this day.
[Milton Evening Standard, January 19, 1950, page 4; Williamsport Gazette and Bulletin, December 24, 1951.] Last Modified: 08.05.16