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A Centre County Christmas

by and on December 14, 2013 11:45 AM

Last weekend was filled with a myriad of activities in the spirit of ushering in Christmas.

I thought that every organization, school, or church had picked the first weekend in December to present its event.

From the Centre Furnace Mansion Holiday Show and Sale and the Mount Nittany Middle School Craft Show to the Lemont “Christmas at the Granary, I attempted to see a little Christmas in each site. Unfortunately weather scared me away from Merry Milheim, which I understand was well attended by the more adventuresome.

Among the venues I checked out was the Lemont Granary where crafters were offering their wares while committee members cooked sausages on a grill and offered hot cider to browsers and shoppers. All the money made on this weekend will benefit the Lemont group who is diligent in their effort to save the historic granary.

Mary Jo Kohler, who had brought her collection of hand decorated houses to the Granary, was doing all right except for her cold feet as dozens of people passed through the long building and admired her decorating.

“I’ve collected these and worked on them over the years,” said Kohler. “It’s just something I do.”

Many of the vendors were in groups of two or three family members. This seems to be a common practice among artisans who pass along their skills to their children.

You can anticipate more holiday cheer producing venues in the next two weeks.

Of course Bellefonte’s Victorian Christmas should be on everyone’s list of “things to do” during Dec. 13 through 15. The gingerbread houses will have been judged and you can view them all in the windows of the Diamond Deli, 103 N. Allegheny Street until Dec. 19. The wandering Dickens characters will be out and about to entertain you in their costumes. Stop in Friday through Sunday at the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County and view the exhibits there by local artists. Just wandering through the town with its festive dressing will be sure to lift your spirits.

Chip Davis will present Mannheim Steamroller Christmas on Dec. 13 at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tickets are still available. Mannheim Steamroller tour is now in its 27th year and was one of the top twenty concert tours in the nation last year.

In 1984, the album Mannheim Steamroller Christmas debuted and added a new dimension to Christmas music. The group’s signature sound is a mixture of the sounds of Renaissance instruments and rock and roll. The group’s Christmas tour has come to be a part of Christmas preparation as much as tree trimming.

Also a natural part of Christmas recent is the hit holiday musical “Scrooge! the Musical,” which opens at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 13. Other performances will thrill attendees at 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15.

Director Richard Biever said: “The hardest thing about producing this year’s Scrooge was the size and scope. We have a cast of 38, an orchestra of 10, costumes for all those folks and a full set. The hardest part is coordinating and juggling all the pieces. Fortunately I have an incredible staff: Choreographer Jill A. Brighton, Lighting Designer Greg Ray, Sound Lance Royes, Costumes Julie Snyder and Scenic Director Michael Benson. Our scenic carpenter Rodney Korte and scenic painter Will Snyder built and painted the set in record time.”

Rehearsals for Scrooge started on Nov. 11 and about 75 percent of the cast from last year returned. Biever said the newcomers are a marvelous addition. In answer to my questions, Biever said that the children attended most rehearsals also. I was thinking about the dedication of everyone involved in a production like “Scrooge! The Musical,” including parents of the kids involved.

Filled with favorite songs like “December the Twenty-Fifth” and “A Christmas Carol”, the musical showcases local State College Actor Tom McClary as the old tightwad.

“Working with the incredible talent in this community is the greatest thing about producing,” said Biever.

Don’t neglect a visit to the Festival of Trees, held this year at the Central Pa Institute of Science and Technology (CPI), Harrison Road. This event benefits the United Way. The free shuttle from Bellefonte Victorian Christmas will take visitors to and from CPI to downtown Bellefonte on Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec. 15.

If you have had enough of entertainment, and have a little time, consider doing volunteer work such as bell ringing with the Salvation Army or helping to pack the boxes for The Samaritan Project, “Operation Christmas Child. Drop off a toy for Toys for Tots or collect food items for the food banks. There are many projects listed in the newspapers or in church bulletins. It is the time for giving after all.

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This post was originally published by the staff at Onward State. Follow Onward State on Twitter @OnwardState.

Connie Cousins covers Centre County for the Gazette.
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