At 125 years old, it's socially acceptable to celebrate your birthday on any day of any month you want.

So, even though Central Market technically opened for the first time in December of 1888, the market's modern-day York County family will celebrate the local icon's 125th birthday on an April evening next week.

Candles and cake aside, the event will also mark completion of a $1.9 million renovation project that wrapped this week.

"Because this is our 125th year, it seems like good timing to celebrate both," said Casi Babinchak, the market's chief operations officer. "For all intents and purposes, the portions of the project that we've promised everyone, they're now enjoying. All of the systems are up and running."

Among those changes: new doors, ceiling fans and lights; fewer wires and visual obstructions; and upgraded electricity, fire-suppression and heating systems.

This is actually the second phase of the market's renovation. The first phase -- which modernized bathrooms, a seating area and the market's annex -- was completed in October 2010.

Historical: The newest upgrades have been described by market stewards as "not very sexy" but still critical. The goal has been to maintain the market's historical integrity and 19th century appeal.

Babinchak called the final result "more visible than we ever thought."

For the past year, work has been done behind the scenes on closed-market days. Not once in the past 12 months has Central Market closed because of construction, Babinchak said.

"We knew we were setting ourselves up for some challenges," she said. "But we didn't want to do that to all the businesses that are operating within these walls."

Parties: Folks wanting to celebrate Central Market's birthday and completed renovation can do so Thursday.

The market is selling $25 tickets for a three-hour evening at the market, which is usually open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Between 6 and 9 p.m. Thursday, all vendors will be open and offering food tastings, beer, wine and live music. At 8 p.m., guests and vendors will gather for a cake-cutting and group photo.

The celebration will continue Saturday with a kid-friendly birthday party between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

For tickets to Thursday's event, call the market office at (717) 843-2243 or visit

-- Erin James may also be reached at