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38th annual Olde Time Christmas opens the season

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    Caleb Shemansik, 11, of Summit Hill, does the countdown for the tree lighting at the 38th annual Jim Thorpe Olde Time Christmas on Friday night. DESHA UTSICK/TIMES NEWS

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    Event goers enjoy the Christmas lights at Josiah White Park in Jim Thorpe following the official Christmas tree lighting. DESHA UTSICK/TIMES NEWS

Published December 07. 2019 08:05AM


The kick-off for the 38th annual Jim Thorpe Olde Time Christmas began with the official lighting of the Christmas tree in Josiah White Park. This annual holiday tradition has been shared by many families of Jim Thorpe over the years.

The event was made possible by Turn to Us, which is a grassroots nonprofit organization formed in 2015. The organization provides support services for families impacted by major and chronic illnesses in Carbon County and surrounding areas.

Caleb Shemansik, an 11-year-old boy from Summit Hill, led the tree lighting countdown. He is the son of John and Tayler Shemansik.

Alicia Kline, founder and executive director of Turn To Us, said Caleb, who has autism and epilepsy, had a seizure and could not come out of it in April 2017. After about three weeks of being in a coma, the doctors and the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia performed a hemispherectomy (disconnection of half of his brain) in order to stop the seizures.

“He has been left with partial paralysis of the left side of his body,” she said. “Since the surgery, Caleb has made amazing progress in his recovery physically, emotionally and educationally.”

Kline said he loves watching movies and YouTube videos of Marvel and DC superheroes, playing with his cousins Tyler and Alexis, and his new baby cousin, Jacey, and spending time doing outdoor activities. In particular, he loves going for walks and playing basketball.

“Caleb loves to attend Turn To Us events and is looking forward to being able to play at the new sensory gym that will be coming,” she said.

Proceeds from the tree lighting event will go toward raising $50,000 for their “Spectrum Sensory Gym.” The Sensory Gym will help children with autism and sensory processing disorders acclimate to new stimuli, nurture independence, and help develop and/or improve a child’s sensory, communication, gross, and fine motor skills.

The event also included live entertainment, Christmas music and the Jim Thorpe High School choir and band performing. Sweets, treats and hot chocolate with a special toppings bar, as well as a Holiday Scavenger Hunt through the stores in the Historic District and a toy drive. It was all capped off with the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Children had their pictures taken with Santa, and Buddy the Elf and Sugar Plum Fairy also made an appearance.


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