In the middle of the Wissahickon woods, chestnuts roasted on an open fire while 50 local residents created their own personalized wreaths and explored the local trails. It was all part of the Friends of the Wissahickon's annual "Winter in the Wissahickon" event. 

The festivities, which were held both in and outside of Valley Green Inn, included a trail hike, a luncheon and a wreath-making workshop. The authentic holiday wreaths were made with local and fresh evergreens, holly and pine cones.

FOW trail ambassador Mary Hathaway says the event is a favorite for many families in the area.

"It's a great way to meet new people who support the park," said Hathaway. "Many people return every year."

Cathy Fasy of Chestnut Hill invited her nieces, Maureen McElroy of Holland, Pa. and Kathleen Hennessy of Ardmore, Pa. to share in the holiday cheer.

"It's a spirit-filled event," said Fasy, "We take nature's beauty and make these wonderful holiday wreaths, we really enjoy it."

McElroy says she was happy to attend for the second time.

"Last year my aunt had suggested that I come here for my birthday," said McElroy, "and now I'm back again. We have a good time making new friends and the wreaths are beautiful."

Hennessy, a physics professor at Saint Joseph's University, has plans to hang her wreath in her office.

"This is a girls day for us, we have a great time," said Hennessy.

Maura McCarthy, executive director of the FOW, says the event offered something for everyone in the family.

"Kids can make bird seed and peanut butter 'nature gifts' for park animals," said McCarthy. 

Cathryn Wessner of King of Prussia, Pa. says she attended the event to support the park, where her husband mountain bikes and where the two were married.

"I love coming here, it's a special place for my husband and I," said Wessner. "It's a nice way to get you into the holiday spirit."

FOW trail ambassador Frank Tuplin says the event, which began in 2003, has become a tradition for many park-goers.

"It's a good send-off for the Christmas season," said Tuplin.