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Costumes, TV Specials, and the Chamber Code of Conduct

A holiday message from Chris Berleth, President, Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce


“…and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”


Homemade Charlie Brown costumes never looked so good as the Berleth clan pulled off this Halloween.

The Berleth family Halloween costumes were inspired by the Peanuts Gang (The little red-haired girl, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and Lucy) and got us thinking about peace and goodwill this holiday season.

For our family, it’s been a tradition for several years to draw inspiration from family-friendly cartoons, old movies, and more as we make (mostly my wife makes) homemade Halloween costumes.  There are only two rules: we must all agree on the final costumes, and we try to keep it as affordable as possible.  It’s an admittedly ridiculous (but fun) endeavor, as we do Halloween “the country way”, calling neighbors, family, and friends to make a total of eight stops on Halloween night and get boatloads of candy.  (Hats off to all of our communities and businesses who host trunk or treats, community nights, and more, but we’re not quite ready for that yet!)

Truly, the fun of the process is the preparation, as it becomes a little bit theatrical and includes such silliness as character accents, walk-up music, and staged photos. This year, the decision to portray the Peanuts gang means that we’ve been watching old TV specials and holiday movies since April.

I know what you’re thinking - with Thanksgiving now over and just one week to go until the Chamber’s Holiday Open House, you might be wondering why I’m telling Halloween stories.

You might also be wondering how this personal rabbit trail relates in any way to the Chamber.  Bear with me.

TV Specials

Still riding the excitement from Halloween and play-acting as Snoopy and Linus, my boys recently turned on “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown”.  Mouthing along to most of the special, Remy (Linus) stood up, and in response to Charlie Brown’s tantrum, “Does anybody know the meaning of Christmas”, he said alongside Linus the entire quote from Luke 2, ending with “…and on earth peace, good will toward men”.  What struck my son as profound struck me too.

Regardless of religious belief or the source of the quote, there’s a place for “peace and goodwill” at the Chamber.  It seems that making our community a great place to live, work, and play and meeting our mission is wrapped up in it.  As we develop and support vibrant and sustainable communities in Columbia and Montour Counties, we build goodwill and our efforts to promote civility in advocacy are our efforts to spread peace.


As I pondered these things, gratitude filled my mind and heart for all that’s transpired this year, thanks to you, and all of our members.

In 2023, we’ve welcomed, hosted, and engaged new leaders in our community – State Senator Lynda Schlegel Culver, and Representatives Michael Stender and Robert Leadbeter.  We’ve held candidate forums for the Commissioners in Columbia and Montour Counties.  Advocacy efforts from your Chamber translated to a policy victory in the extension of tele-file at the state level, new health and wellness initiatives across the region, the support of broadband expansion opportunities, and regional transportation improvements.  We’ve supported the work of our downtown organizations and worked closely with school districts to improve the talent pipeline through our Foundation.  Your Chamber loaned $10,000 to a small business through the Chamber’s low-interest loan fund and celebrated the successes of past loan recipients as they’ve transformed their businesses. We’ve engaged with more members than ever through our Chamber Ambassadors and the #MeetTheMembers campaign, and we worked closely with the Columbia Montour Visitor’s Bureau and Victor Koons Graphic Design to produce an excellent image book for our region.

As we’ve promoted the Chamber’s Code of Conduct, we’re particularly thrilled to have received a signed copy of it back just last week from the Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community.  (Thank you to Ted Spotts and the team at Maria Joseph for your commitment to a better business community.)

There’s a lot to be grateful for, isn’t there?

This holiday season, between the niceties of community events like our Holiday Open House, and the annual, frantic, last-minute shopping, please know that your membership in the Chamber is much bigger than the events that you may or may not be able to attend.  Rather, your support allows us to do great work for peace, goodwill, and a better business community.

Chamber Code of Conduct

Beyond receiving my thanks on behalf of all of our members, let me conclude with this request: please pause for a moment and consider encouraging the nonprofit boards you sit on, the businesses you lead, and the governments with whom you work to sign our pledge – that our conduct in the public arena is fit for the innocence of the Peanuts gang, and Linus’s understanding of the meaning of the season – good will toward men.

To adopt the Code of Conduct for your organization, download it here.

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