By Maya Pottiger
Do you hear those sleigh bells jingling? The sound might be coming from Kinder Farm Park’s Jingle Bell Hayride.
For the last five years, Severna Park resident Barbara Buchleitner has worked to make sure the Jingle Bell Hayride has a smooth ride.
“For the Jingle Bell Hayride, [Buchleitner] works for months prior to the event, handling the reservations,” said Karen Haghighi, vice president of the Friends of Kinder Farm Park advocacy group. “She has volunteered to help decorate the pavilion and wagons the day before the event. And, on the day of the event, she will be quite active checking people in for their hayride.”
For Buchleitner, the six weeks between Kinder Farm Park’s Fall Harvest Festival and the Jingle Bell Hayride are particularly busy. However, with the help of the other Friends of Kinder Farm Park board members, people “just do what needs to be done. We fill ourselves in where things need to be taken care of,” Buchleitner said.
“Most of the people that are on the board have been on the board for a while. We sort of have it down to a little bit of a science,” Buchleitner said. “But the week before an event, there’s always a lot to do.”
The Jingle Bell Hayride has roughly 700 spots to sell, all of which are typically sold out by Thanksgiving, Buchleitner said. Four of the park’s tractors pull six wagons during the ride, which is roughly two miles long and goes through the back of the park.
Buchleitner started volunteering with Kinder Farm Park about seven years ago.
“I’ve lived in Severna Park for 40 years, and my kids grew up around Kinder Farm Park, playing there,” Buchleitner said. “We have a family reunion every year at the park. I thought, ‘It’s time to give something back.’ That’s when I got started.”
Buchleitner started as a blue bird monitor, keeping track of the blue birds coming through the area and reporting back to the East Coast Flyway at Cornell University. Then, Buchleitner joined the Friends of Kinder Farm Park as a board member. For the last three years, she has served as the treasurer.
At one point, Buchleitner ran the kiddie games at the annual Fall Harvest Festival.
“I like the people,” Buchleitner said. “It’s a very diverse group of people on the board. We all get along well. We all work in our own lane.”