Pope’s Christmas Wish: Hope For A Better World

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis offered a Christmas wish Wednesday for a better world, praying for protection for Christians under attack, battered women and trafficked children, peace in the Middle East and Africa, and dignity for refugees fleeing misery and conflict around the globe.

Francis delivered the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (Latin for “to the city and to the world”) speech from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to 70,000 cheering tourists, pilgrims and Romans in the square below. He said he was joining all those hoping “for a better world.”

In his first Christmas message since being elected pontiff in March, he asked for all to share in the song of Christmas angels, “for every man or woman … who hopes for a better world, who cares for others,” humbly.

Among places ravaged by conflict, Francis singled out Syria, which saw its third Christmas during civil war; South Sudan; the Central African Republic; Nigeria; and Iraq.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20131225/popes-christmas-wish-hope-for-a-better-world

Merry Christmas

We would like to extend our warmest Christmas wishes to all our readers and supporters.  We appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to stop by our site.

May your holiday be filled with family, laughter and love.

Stay warm and safe.

Just Born Taps Into Christmas Candy Market

Pink Marshmallow Peeps

Pink Marshmallow Peeps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When people hear Peeps, they generally think of Easter.

Matthew Pye, Just Born’s vice president of corporate affairs, said that’s why large retailers mostly carry the marshmallow treats through the early spring.

But with a candy gold mine in the winter holiday season sitting untapped after 60 years in business, the Bethlehem-based company has made a media push this year to make Peeps a Christmas treat, too.

Pye said the “Santa Hop” campaign has put a large focus on social media and commercial airtime since Nov. 25. One of Just Born’s newest additions, candy cane-flavored marshmallow chicks dipped in chocolate, has taken center stage in the campaign, he said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2013/12/just_born_taps_into_christmas.htmlhttp://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2013/12/just_born_taps_into_christmas.html

Wyomissing Family Wins $50,000 On ABC’s ‘Great Christmas Light Fight’

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tim and Katie Macrina of Wyomissing can finally mail their Christmas cards.

The ABC-TV crew came to their door weeks ago to let them know they’d won $50,000 on the network’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” a five-episode series. In each episode, four families battle to create the best Christmas lights display for a prize of $50,000.

The Macrinas couldn’t leave the news off their Christmas cards, but were sworn to secrecy until the show aired Monday night.

“Tim sent them out today,” Katie, 35, said Monday night.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131224/NEWS/312249910#.UrmwSvRDsxI

Santa Express Brings A Little Christmas Magic To Bellefonte

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BELLEFONTE, PA — Dressed as Rudolph this weekend, Mike Hawbaker made his way through the train cars of the Santa Express.

During one of the 11 trips, Hawbaker approached a small child, who gave the costume-clad volunteer a small piece of paper. The child had hand drawn a little picture of the reindeer and wanted to give it to the red-nosed Christmas staple.

“That’s why we do this,” Hawbaker said, smiling as he looked at the drawing.

The annual event is a joint effort among the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority, the Nittany and Bald Eagle Railroad and the Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society, train owner Jeff Pontius said. He also organizes similar events in Williamsport, Bloomsburg and Sunbury.

Spotlight’s Off, But Reading’s Challenges Remain

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The journey to tell a television Christmas story in poverty-stricken Reading began two summers ago in holiday-decorated Hope Lutheran Church on North Front Street.

A national TV audience, estimated at more than 1.4 million homes, observed the 2012 Christmas Eve broadcast of “One Christmas Story: People Rich in Spirit,” a production of Odyssey Networks, a New York-based multifaith media coalition.

It was a story designed to depict Reading’s hope and faith amid economic challenges. At the time, it sparked energy and excitement.

But, one year later, at Christmas 2013, many of the city’s social challenges remain unchanged.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131222/NEWS/312229955/1052#.UrbPPPRDsxI

Twelve Twenty Four Holiday Rock Orchestra ‘Rocks’ Sunnybrook Ballroom In Pottstown

Tonight Pottstown “rocked out” with the holiday sounds of Twelve Twenty Four at the Sunnybrook Ballroom.  If you have never heard of this group here is a synopsis in their own words:

“Established in 2002, 12/24 performs its Christmas music with a theatrical, rock edge and combines it with a narrated storyline to create a family friendly holiday show suitable for all ages. They are the first and foremost recreation of TSO and are making a name for themselves now with goals that aren’t stopping here.”

TSO stand for Trans-Siberian Orchestra if that acronym is unfamiliar to you.  I had the pleasure of attending TSO’s holiday show last year at the Giant Center in Hershey, so I was interested in seeing how well Twelve Twenty Four took on the legendary Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Between the music and the light show, that’s a tall order.

The 22 member group did not disappoint!  The large and enthusiastic crowd was very vocal in their appreciation of the stellar performance.  Sunnybrook’s wonderful acoustics lend themselves very well to concerts.  If you live anywhere near Pottstown, you should really take advantage of the concerts there. Tickets are very reasonably priced, the restaurant has excellent food and the parking is free and plentiful.

The group appears to be Luzerne County based, from what I could gather on their website, so they are not far away.  They play many venues around Northeast Pennsylvania and beyond. This was their first trip to Pottstown.  They complimented the crowd which leads me to think they might come back again :)   We can only hope!

In addition to covering TSO songs, they did some original material.  They have just released their second CD, “Light in the Dark”.  They also drifted away from the holidays for a few minutes and did an amazing version of “Barracuda” by Heart and “Hotel California” by the Eagles.  We were also asked to take part in a sing-along of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Evidently, we did a good job based on the band’s comments.  It was recorded so we might get put on their website.

The musicianship was first-rate.  The instrumentalists and singers were superb.  Co-founder Jason Santos is the principal composer and arranger for the group’s original material in addition to playing keyboards, guitar and singing.  With a group this size, it is noteworthy to mention that everyone stood out in some way.

Here is a link to Twelve Twenty Four’s website:  http://twelvetwentyfour.net/  There are music samples, videos and pictures on the website.  In addition, you can order their CD’s or buy downloads.

Their Facebook fan page is:  https://www.facebook.com/twelvetwentyfour

What a great way to celebrate Christmas!  Thanks for coming to Pottstown!

 

York Area Teen’s Christmas Display Attracting National Attention

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

YORK, PA (AP) — Caleb Linburg’s hobby lights up the neighborhood for the holidays.

Caleb, 15, is presenting his fifth annual “Linburg Lights” display, which features more than 30,000 Christmas bulbs flashing on and off to the beat of holiday songs.

The display can be seen on his home at 1195 Hambletonian Way in Manchester Township.

People can hear the music by tuning to the 87.9 FM radio station.

They also can use a “jukebox” feature on their smartphones to select which of the songs they want to hear, Caleb said.

To see a 2 1/2 minute video and read the rest of the article, click here: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20131206/york-area-teens-christmas-display-attracting-national-attention

Centre Park Rolls Out Welcome Mats For Christmas House Tour

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading, PA – Doug and Dia Fell were decorating their home for the holidays last week. Some lights and garlands to highlight the staircase, a few of the long-used holiday ornaments from years past here and there and, of course, the festooned tree in the living room.

“It’s the usual stuff, nothing special,” Dia said, sounding calm and collected even though she’s expecting a throng of visitors this weekend.
She’s going to let the house speak for itself.

The Fell’s home in the 300 block of Douglass Street is one of the many scheduled stops on the self-guided tour of private residences and other buildings in the Centre Park Historic District.

The 29th Christmas House Tour and Champagne Brunch, to be held Sunday, is a major annual fundraiser for the preservation group in the city neighborhood of homes, many of which are more than a century old, surrounding the park in the 700 block of Centre Avenue.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131205/WEEKEND/312059991#.UqC1w7B3uM8

Bellefonte Victorian Christmas A Holiday Wonderland

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Step into the holiday wonderland of the 32nd Annual Bellefonte Victorian Christmas, but watch out for some of its characters.

They may be stepping around you.

Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Cratchet and the Fezziwigs will return to Bellefonte in all their festive sartorial splendor to stroll around and greet visitors during the Dec. 12-15 celebration.

They’re among the many attractions scheduled for the traditional holiday extravaganza organized by the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association. Carolers, arts and crafts vendors, concerts, horse-drawn carriage rides, gingerbread houses, visits with Santa and more await to put even the biggest Scrooge in a holiday mood.

Allentown’s ‘Lights In The Parkway’ Display Opening To Motorists On Friday Night

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Come Friday night, those caught in a traffic jam on a certain stretch of Allentown’s Lehigh Parkway probably won’t be complaining.

The city announced the start of the 18th season of “Lights in the Parkway,” a holiday light display that spans more than a mile along the parkway. A trip through the display has become a tradition for many in the Lehigh Valley. Organizers say it has drawn close to 2 million people since it debuted in 1996. Last holiday season, nearly 20,000 vehicles passed through.

The gates open at 5:30 p.m. Friday for a special Thanksgiving weekend preview that ends Sunday night. “Lights in the Parkway” will then reopen for the official start of the season on Dec. 6, the city announced in a news release. From then until Dec. 31, with the exception of Christmas, the display will be open each night from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., the release says.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2013/11/allentowns_lights_in_the_parkw.html#incart_river

43rd Annual Belsnickel Craft Show Set For This Weekend At Boyertown Senior High School

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 43rd annual Belsnickel Craft Show, presenting approximately 140 local and regional juried artisans, will be held on Friday, Nov. 29, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. All crafts for sale are handmade by artisans in the show and are not commercially manufactured or imported.

Among the traditional crafts on display will be woodworking and woodcarving, pottery, baskets, tin, papier-mache folk art, dolls and doll clothing, women’s and children’s clothing, silver and gold jewelry, quilts and quilted items, dried flowers, tole painting, weaving, scherenschnitte (paper cutting), clay sculpture, fraktur, Santas, stained glass, punched-tin art, wooden toys and Christmas items.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/lifestyle/20131126/43rd-annual-belsnickel-craft-show-set-for-this-weekend-at-boyertown-senior-high-school

MOSAIC CLT’s Community Gardens Is Holding A Christmas Tree Sale!

Christmas Tree (1)

Christmas Tree (1) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Please come and purchase your Christmas Tree in support of MOSAIC Community Land Trust Saturday and Sunday, December 7-8 2:00 PM-7:00 PM at the Community Garden at 423 Chestnut Street

We are offering a $5.00 discount for all orders placed prior to our tree sale.  Please use the attached order form to purchase your tree by Friday, November 29.

If you cannot complete the form online, please email your selection to Laura Washington at wash5000@msn.com with your payment information and we will reserve your tree! 

Or join us at the garden and purchase your tree!  We will be at the garden December 7th and 8th from 2 to 7 PM, singing carols, sipping hot cocoa, and getting into the holiday spirit, so please stop by!

Hope to see you December 7th and 8th at the Garden!  Thank you for your ongoing support of Community Gardens in our neighborhoods!  Happy Holidays everyone!

Tree PreOrder Form

Bethlehem Continues To Boost Christmas Events

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bethlehem keeps working to earn its Christmas City nickname.

The city may have more holiday events than ever this year: Christkindlmarkt is open for its 21st year, Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites is holding holiday tours and carriage rides for its 20th year and Center City’s Christmas City Village is returning for its third year.

The continued addition of holiday attractions has only helped existing events, operators said. Christkindlmarkt, a German-style holiday marketplace put on by ArtsQuest, had two of its three best years following the debut of the Downtown Bethlehem Association-organized Christmas City Village in 2011, ArtsQuest spokesman Mark Demko said.

Christmas City Village — an open-air German-style market also known as Weihnachtsmarkt — is adding another five huts for a total of 35 this year, Downtown Business Association Manager Kara Johnson said. And Historic Bethlehem is already ahead of schedule on pre-sale tour and carriage ride tickets, according to LoriAnn Wukitsch, the organization’s vice president and managing director.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2013/11/bethlehem_continues_to_boost_c.html

Visit Pottsgrove Manor By Candlelight

news_children's roomPottstown, PA– Revel in the spirit of the season at historic Pottsgrove Manor with the annual “Pottsgrove Manor by Candlelight” open-house on Sunday, December 8, 2013 from 2:00pm to 8:00pm.

The public is invited to take a self-guided tour of the elegant 1752 manor house where costumed interpreters will depict the colonial residents of Pottsgrove Manor. As visitors make their way through the house they will hear the strains of traditional harp music, see English country dancing, catch a whiff of the delicious smells in the kitchen as historical cook Deborah Peterson prepares authentic dishes at the open hearth, and enjoy the beauty of the mansion lit by candlelight and bedecked with greenery. Complimentary refreshments of hot spiced cider, colonial-style chocolate drink, and gingerbread cookies will be served at the end of the house tour.

After exploring the house, guests will want to visit Pottsgrove Manor’s museum shop for unique, historically-oriented gifts like locally-made redware pottery and ornaments, reproduction glassware, handcrafted candles and soaps, books, toys, games, and more.

news_DessertsNext door to the mansion in the Miller’s House, young visitors will be able to make free seasonal crafts to take home. Outside in the manor’s courtyard, visitors will be able to warm themselves by a bonfire (weather permitting), and enjoy historic carols sung by the Colonial Revelers singing group (performing from 2:00pm to 5:00pm).

A donation of $2 per person is suggested for this event. No reservations are needed. Visitors are asked to park at Memorial Park (75 West King Street); a shuttle will transport visitors to and from Pottsgrove Manor throughout the event. Handicapped parking is available in the museum’s parking lot. The Manor’s open house will also be featured as a stop on the Pottstown Historical House Tour that evening.

Can’t make it to the open house? Visitors can enjoy the spirit of the season at Pottsgrove Manor now through January 12, 2014 with a guided tour of the mansion, decorated for the holidays. Tours are offered during regular museum hours, and the museum shop will also be open for holiday shopping. Regular museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00am to 4:00pm and Sunday, 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Tours are given on the hour. The last tour of the day begins as 3:00pm. Groups of 10 or more should pre-register by calling0 610-326-4014. The museum is closed Mondays, as well as Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

Pottsgrove Manor is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Pottsgrove Manor is operated by MontgomeryCounty under the direction of the Parks, Trails, & Historic Sites Division of the Assets and Infrastructure Department. For more information, please call 610-326-4014, or visit the website at www.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor. Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pottsgrovemanor.

Light Up Night Events In Pittsburgh

One Mellon Center in downtown Pittsburgh, Penn...

One Mellon Center in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Possible showers and traffic delays aside, the 53rd annual Light Up Night events start at noon, with the tree lighting at the City-County Building. The PPG Plaza tree will be lit at 6 p.m., and 45 minutes later, Macy’s festive windows will be unveiled.

The BNY Mellon Fireworks Finale will go off at 9:38 p.m., as Zambelli Internationale fireworks will launch from the Warhol Bridge, synchronized to a live broadcast on 3WS (94.5 FM).

Expect street and sidewalk closures and transit detours throughout Downtown Pittsburgh today.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2013/11/22/Light-Up-Night-events/stories/201311220102#ixzz2lP1p3rD4

Scranton Santa Parade Slated For Saturday

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Floats, balloons, marching bands and even a horse-drawn carriage will lead Santa Claus into Scranton this weekend as the Santa Parade once again spreads holiday cheer throughout the city.

Organizers wanted to make the parade bigger and better this year, and it certainly has grown. Stepping off Saturday at 9 a.m., the 21st annual parade will boast at least 20 floats, double the number it typically has. More participants will make the parade more enjoyable, said Mike Gallacher, vice president of finance for Santa Parade Inc.

“The parade’s always great because there’s always great entertainment, but we’re going to have more variety this year,” he said.

This is the first year Santa Parade Inc. organized the parade rather than the Scranton Jaycees, the planner for many years, after members of the Jaycees decided to spin off the parade off into its own group. Jaycees members “age out” of the group when they turn 41, and a lot of people – Mr. Gallacher included – were nearing that milestone and did not want to see the parade dissipate, he said.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/lifestyles/santa-parade-slated-for-saturday-1.1588844