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Tarentum's Christmas in the Park event benefits 3 fire departments

| Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, 10:38 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Debo the Clown makes Christmas balloon decorations at the 'Christmas in the Park' celebration at Riverview Park in Tarentum in 2009. This year's event is Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. Jason Bridge / Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Dakota White of Harrison attempts to keep her candy-cane balloon hat upright during a previous Christmas in the Park celebration at Riverview Park in Tarentum. This year's event will be Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. Jason Bridge / Valley News Dispatch
Victoria Will/Invision/AP
This Oct. 19, 2012 photo shows American actress Emma Roberts posing for a portrait in New York. Roberts isn't just making a name for herself as a rising star in Hollywood. The 21-year-old routinely gets name-checked in magazines for her style on the red carpet. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)

At the heart of Tarentum's upcoming Christmas celebration is a setting that's not only merry and bright, but also beautiful.

Organizers of Saturday's “Celebrate Christmas in the Park” attribute the event's success to the natural beauty of the borough's Riverview Park.

“Every year, it's just so well-received, because of the park,” says Barbara Magnetta, Tarentum Recreation Commission president.

The recreation commission sponsors the event to raise money for three local fire companies, Eureka Hose, Highland Hose and Summit Hose. The festive fundraiser has food, fun and music, and lots of holiday cheer. Most events take place at the park from 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

“The park is just awesome,” Magnetta says. “It's the perfect place for (the festival). All the beautiful trees, the lights on the gazebo, the decorations. I don't think there's any more proper place in Tarentum that would be more picturesque for this. It's just a beautiful atmosphere down there by the river. Once visitors come and see our park, we get so many compliments.”

There will be plenty of opportunity for those feeling festive to see the park, but they'll also be invited to venture outside of its bounds, for trolley rides with Santa and a living Nativity at one of the borough's churches.

There is no admission or charge for any of the events, but donations for the fire companies are accepted. Proceeds from the event's sales of homemade food like cabbage and noodles and hot sausage, served hot from the park's Snack Shack, go to the same cause.

Carrie Fox, recreation board treasurer, says those in and around Tarentum have been anticipating the celebration.

“They look forward to this festive event because it puts the spirit of Christmas in all of us,” she says. “To see the faces light up of all our guests, it puts into perspective why we are recreation-board members. We love what we do.”

Those who turn out for the afternoon will be able to enjoy a bonfire, caroling and a Christmas present giveaway event for kids. In addition, choirs from Highlands Area schools will perform throughout the afternoon. Santa's Trolley will give kids and families rides through the borough. The jolly old elf will join riders as they make a loop through the borough. He'll even be giving out treat bags for kids.

A short walk up from the park, “Celebration” guests can visit the live Nativity at Abundant Joy Church at the corner of Allegheny Street and First Avenue.

Groups like the Tarentum History and Landmarks Foundation might be at the holiday celebration, as well, according to Magnetta. Organizers credit that group, and the Allegheny-Kiski Historical Society and the Tarentum Business Advisory Committee, with helping to make the celebration a success each holiday season.

“Everybody has that Christmas spirit now,” she says. “And we're trying to make things as jolly and happy as we can.”

Julie Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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