Cold chips from Santa

What do potato chips and Christmas have in common?
Berwick, Pennsylvania.
Berwick, roughly 40 miles from Greater Pittston, an easy drive on Route 81 or a slightly slower, more interesting one down Route 11, has been celebrating Christmas in high fashion for the past 72 years.
Legendary Wise potato chips has called Berwick home for 25 years longer.
Put them both together and you get a marvelous Christmas experience.
In 1947, as a means of providing a special holiday welcome for troops returning home from World War II, the Berwick Jaycees set up an elaborate Christmas display. It grew into something fondly called “Christmas Boulevard,” a mile-long stretch of dazzling decorations along Market Street. This is “Christmas Boulevard’s” 72nd year.
Along the way, Wise potato chips got into the act. Wise, which started in Berwick 97 years ago when a grocer decided to fry up his excess potatoes before they went bad and grew into a snack food empire, provides potato chips for those showing up to enjoy the display. The chips, which are free of charge, are handed out by Santa Claus, who else?
I used to take my kids to see Christmas Boulevard but have not been there in close to 30 years. A mistake on my part, I readily admit.
Don’t know how it escaped me, but I had not heard about the Wise potato chip aspect until a few weeks ago when a couple of my community college students who live in Berwick told me about it.
“You mean you’ve never eaten cold chips from Santa?” Rebecca Decker exclaimed. “Cold potato chips are the best!”
She strongly encouraged me to get to Berwick this year, but if I did not, then to put a bag of chips in the fridge just to see how good they are. They won’t be quite the same as “cold chips from Santa,” she said, but at least I’ll get the idea.
Not sure if Santa is still hanging around in Berwick. He may have headed back to the North Pole after making his rounds Monday night. But “Christmas Boulevard” will remain lighted through New Year’s Eve.
You might consider bringing your own Wise potato chips. Just in case.

Ed Ackerman