PRINCETON — Christmas time is a special time of year to gather around friends and family and exchange gifts, but it’s also a time to reflect on past holiday experiences.

Many people often go back in time and remember the magical times that they once had during the Christmas season.

Dick Copeland, a resident of Princeton, said that could remember that all of the businesses on Mercer Street were thriving and everyone was in the Christmas spirit.

“When I first came here in 1952, all the businesses on Mercer Street were in full bloom and all the buildings occupied,” said Copeland.

Throughout Mercer Street, Copeland said, decorations ran from across the street and from one lightpole to the other as well.

“You were under a ceiling of lights,” Copeland said. “Tremendous decorations at Christmas time.”

He said that the street was packed with shoppers walking from store to store under the ceiling of lights. Before Stafford Drive, as Copeland said, all of the businesses in Princeton were on Mercer Street. Copeland said that he misses the times where shoppers and lights crowded Mercer Street.

“Today when you walk down Mercer Street, you don’t see a soul up there,” Copeland said. “It was a joyous time and a very Merry Christmas for everybody in downtown Princeton.”

Mercer Street, Copeland said, had many stores that shoppers poured into such as men’s and women’s clothing stores, jewelry stores, and even children’s clothing stores.

Copeland owned an insurance agency for nearly forty years in Princeton before becoming the owner of Sherwood Apartments near Oakvale Road.

When thinking of Christmas, Elizabeth Osborne, of Elizabeth’s Botique, said her fondest holiday memory was the Christmas parade. Osborne was a member of the Bluefield High School Band and remembered the good times she had performing in the parade.

“When I was in high school, I remember coming to Princeton for the Princeton Christmas parade and for some reason and for some reason, that was the one that stood out from all others,” Osborne said. “It was so big back then.”

With Christmas being her favorite holiday, Osborne’s holiday experiences expand further than performing in the Christmas parade.

“I love Christmas,” said Osborne.

When she was young, Osborne said, she and her brother and sister would stay awake at night and watch her parents sit everything out under the tree pretending to be Santa Claus.

“My mother thought she was getting really smart one year and leaving things at a neighbor’s house,” she said. “At 12 o’clock, she went over to our neighbor’s house, and we all three were sitting there looking at her and watched her go to the neighbor’s house and come back.”

Osborne said she could also remember the ground and the streets covered with snow, before the weather became warmer like it is today.

“I love snow at Christmas,” Osborne said. “It’s not Christmas without snow.”

Osborne said that the town needed a huge snow for everyone to come out and get into the holiday spirit.

After living in Princeton for 15 years, Raegan DeVor of Kidz at Heart, said her big holiday memory was the parade down Mercer Street.

“I lived on Mercer Street in the newer apartments, and we were able to sit inside of our window and watch the parade go by,” said DeVor. “We were able to watch everything that was going on without having to fight the crowd and all that. It was awesome because you were getting a different view, it wasn’t down the street looking up, it was looking down and seeing everything that was happening.”

Another favorite memory of DeVor’s was the year that came a gigantic snow storm.

“It was ‘99, and we probably had a foot of snow on the ground,” she said. “That was a nice Christmas because you had the White Christmas.”

— Contact Brandon Dye at bdye@ptonline.ne

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