Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on Dec 24th.
25 Years Ago
December 24, 1996 – Tuesday
“Santa’s sleigh is cleared for takeoff”
Chambersburg – The flight plan has been filed and official clearance given for Santa Claus’ annual Christmas Eve flight, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday.
Acting in the spirit of the holiday, the FAA gave the jolly old gent special clearance to operate below the 1,000-foot minimum flight level, and inspectors said he has been checked out in tricky rooftop landing maneuvers. Santa’s sleigh has been issued the special tail number, N-HOHO, for the flight.
The agency acted after the White House issued a statement saying President Clinton had directed the Transportation Department to restrict other flights in the region of the North Pole in order to provide clear flying for Santa.
READ this FCFP story from 2020: NORAD Santa tracker: Santa’s on his way tonight
50 Years Ago
December 24, 1971 – Friday
“Christian World Halts Wars, Turns Thoughts to Christmas”
Chambersburg – Christians around the world turned their thoughts from turmoil today to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.
Planeloads of American servicemen from Vietnam joined their families for the holidays; 100 children 50 Protestant and 50 Roman Catholic were flown from strife-torn Belfast for a danger-free Christmas in London, and Arabs from neighboring states streamed to Israeli-occupied Bethlehem for observances in the city where Christ was born.
In South Vietnam, Communist and allied forces scheduled cease-fires, military chefs prepared turkey dinners with all the trimmings for the 162,500 GIs still in the country, hospitals at Long Binh were gaily decorated, Christmas trees and tinsel went on sale in Saigon, and such entertainers as Bob Hope, Johnny Grant and Martha Raye led troupes of entertainers to big American bases.
Homeward-bound GIs had special cargo aboard their plane as it landed in Chicago on Thursday: An 11-month old war orphan to be adopted by a Bowie, Md. couple. “It’s just a fantastic Christmas,” exulted Mrs. Gary Allen when they presented her with the child.
The religious warfare in Northern Ireland was temporarily forgotten by 100 schoolchildren from the bullet-scarred Protestant Shankill Road and Catholic Ardoyne sectarian strongholds. An insurance company paid their way to London to meet Santa Claus, visit a pantomime theater and see the city’s Christmas lights. The children sang, cheered and laughed as they stepped from their plane in the British capital.
Bethlehem braced for 35,000 pilgrims, among them Arabs from neighboring states. Every Christmas since Israel occupied the city in 1967, Arabs have been permitted to attend holy ceremonies, despite the fact that their countries are engaged in a non-shooting war with the Jewish state.
Extra police were assigned to patrol the winding, cobbled streets of the city and soldiers were ordered to mingle with the crowd. Some 10,000 pilgrims were expected at Christmas Eve celebrations culminating with a midnight pontifical high mass at the Church of the Nativity built over the cave where Jesus was believed born.
In a Christmas message issued Thursday, President Nixon called for “special thought to those in need, and to the universal bonds that link all mankind in brotherhood and God.
“In doing so,” he added, “we touch something basic and good in the human spirit: That special grace that makes this a time of giving, and of forgiving a time of good will, when we know the true peace that lodges in the heart.”
Pope Paul VI, in a 3,500-word Christmas address to bishops and cardinals at the Vatican, deplored fighting on the Indian subcontinent, in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and Indochina, and urged: “Let no one absent himself. Let all collaborate according to their own energy and vocation” to help their fellow man. SPECIAL TREAT In Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian magazine Parents and Children offered a special treat for Christians unable to make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land: A Christmas issue with a small sack of earth said to be from Bethlehem.
100 Years Ago
December 24, 1921 – Saturday