BROWNHELM HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION PROGRAMS
The Brownhelm Historical Association holds meetings the first Wednesday of each month beginning in February, March, April, May and June; off July and August; resume September, October, November, and December. Meetings are held at the Historic Brownhelm School and Museum at 1950 North Ridge Road. Note: the December Christmas Meeting is held at the Brownhelm Heritage Museum (formerly the German Evangelical and Reformed Church) at 1355 Claus Road, Vermilion. Doors open at 6:00 pm for those who wish to attend the business meeting from 6:30-7 pm. Those wishing to only attend the program should arrive between 7-7:15 pm for refreshments and socializing. Programs start at 7:30 pm. Click here for more information about Brownhelm Historical Association meetings & programs, or contact them at [email protected].
BROWNHELM MEMORIAL DAY PARADE “The Shortest Parade in Town”
Date: Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend
Time: Parade participants begin to gather at 1:30 pm. Parade leaves at 1:45 pm to Cemetery
Location: Gather at the corners of North Ridge and Claus Road (South) travel to the Brownhelm Cemetery.
Event: The Amherst American Legion leads the parade, followed by the Brownhelm Historical Association wagon, Brownhelm 4-H Club, antique cars, tractors & more; all are welcome! At the Veterans Memorial site a short ceremony honoring our Veterans follows. There are also services at the Rugby Cemetery on North Ridge Road & Brown’s Lake Road Cemetery after the ceremony at Brownhelm Cemetery. All are welcome to join in the parade or at the Brownhelm Cemetery. Click here for more information about Brownhelm Historical Association meetings & programs, or contact them at [email protected].
MILL HOLLOW SUMMER CONCERT SERIES
Dates: Sunday evenings June through August
Time: 6:30-8 pm
Location: Vermilion River Reservation – Bacon Woods Amphitheater
Join us Sunday evenings each summer for outdoor musical performances at the Bacon Woods amphitheater! All bands are family friendly. Feel free to bring along your lawn chairs and a picnic dinner or snacks to enjoy. Contact the Carriage Barn at (440) 967-7310 for more information.
ANNUAL “IF TOMBSTONES COULD TALK” CEMETERY WALK
Event: Come stroll through the Brownhelm Cemetery where you will walk back in time and meet some of Brownhelm’s earliest pioneers and residents. Costumed reenactors share their life stories in a program that “brings history life”!
Location: Brownhelm Cemetery, corner of North Ridge and Sunnyside Road
Click here for more information about Brownhelm Historical Association events, or contact them at [email protected].
CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING AT HISTORIC BROWNHELM SCHOOL
Date: Sunday after Thanksgiving
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: Historic Brownhelm School & Museum
Event: Join us for an Old Fashioned Christmas Tree Lighting and singing a few carols to start the holiday season. Refreshments and socializing in the "School." Click here for more information about Brownhelm Historical Association events, or contact them at [email protected].
OLD FASHIONED HOLIDAY AT THE BENJAMIN BACON HOUSE
Date: First weekend in December
Time: Saturday: 3:00 pm-8:00 pm; Sunday: 2:00-6:00 pm
Location: Mill Hollow Park/Vermilion River Reservation
Event: Each December reenactors recreate an Old Fashioned Holiday at the Benjamin Bacon House located in Mill Hollow Park, also known then as Brownhelm Mills or Bacon’s Mills. Guests travel in time to the 1860’s as re-enactors portray early Brownhelm residents preparing for the holiday party. Enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of Christmas in the candlelit home. Tours leave about every 15 minutes from the Carriage Barn. Outdoor campfire, hearth cooking demonstrations, music, and more. Performed by many members of the Brownhelm Historical Association and sponsored by the Lorain County Metro Park. Click here for more information about Brownhelm Historical Association events, or contact them at [email protected]m.
BROWNHELM COMMUNITY CHRISTMAS
Date: December 24th, Annually
In 1931 a young child, 8 years old, was told there wouldn’t be any Christmas presents for her. The Great Depression had taken its tole on Northern Ohio and her father was out of work. The little girl confided the heartbreaking news to her pastor of the Brownhelm Congregational Church.
When Reverend Ralph Albright learned that children in his parish would not have a Christmas, he assembled members of three churches in Brownhelm Township. Together they created a plan for Santa to visit families in need, bringing food and gifts.
No family was untouched by the hard times of the Great Depression, so they did what they could. Old and broken toys were donated from the attics of local families. They were repaired, painted and polished by volunteers. The church basement was transformed into a toy shop. Local women repaired old dolls and crafted new ones. Old clothes were mended. Farmers donated apples, ciders, squash and potatoes. Monetary donations were collected in a cigar box at the Brownhelm Store, a total of $16.90, allowing for the purchase of oranges and candy. Santa suits were made from red and white flannel.
Volunteers wrapped, packed and labeled the gifts. At dusk on the morning of December 24th, six Santas affixed their beards with spirit gum and began delivering the packages around the township.
“There was not one lonely, disappointed or hungry child in our community this Christmas.” - Reverend Albright
The following year the volunteer committee reassembled and decided to continue the project. The volunteers agreed that every home would be included so that no family would be singled out as “poor”. The Community Christmas with Santa Claus had been established, and continues each year to this day.
There were only 12 homes in the township when the tradition began, now there are 900. 20 Santas visit all homes in Old Brownhelm, the area originally served by the Brownhelm School before it was consolidated with Firelands Schools. Every child under 10 receives a gift; those up to age 14 receive candy and fruit. Seniors citizens are gifted with a half-peck basket of fruit. Cards are sent out to everyone serving in the military. Anyone who might go without Christmas dinner discreetly receives food packages.
Letters are sent to Brownhelm Township families in November explaining the Community Christmas tradition with instructions on how to receive a Santa visit. The area is divided into routes; each route with a chairman to compile a list of each recipient’s name and age.
The Brownhelm Community Christmas Santa visits have become an integral part of the season for Brownhelm residents. Organizers rely solely on donations; they do not solicit businesses but local businesses donate fruit and solicit donations. Volunteers drive Santa from house to house, wrap gifts, assemble fruit baskets, pack candy into bags, and help the Santas get dressed on Christmas Eve.
The legacy of a little girl, whose heartbreaking plea touched an entire community, has far outlived her.