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Tarentum's Heritage Museum offers a look at Christmas-related antiques

| Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Sana Chowdhry, an intern from CCAC Boyce campus, adjusts branches on a vintage Alcoa Christmas tree with a rotating, colored spotlight at the Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society Heritage Museum Christmas display in Tarentum
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Sean Isaacs, head volunteer at the Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society Heritage Museum in Tarentum, shows a 1950's ice skate, which is being displayed with other Christmas items.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
A wreath made of Christmas tree decorations and vintage ornaments is shown at the Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society Heritage Museum Christmas display in Tarentum.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Jamie Stoner, curator at the Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society Heritage Museum in Tarentum, works on a Christmas tree decorated with antique toys.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
A mannequin depicting a likeness of William Andrew 'Uncle Billy' Smith, a Tarentum native who struck oil in Titusville in 1859, is decorated with a Santa hat in the Alle-Kiski Historical Society Heritage Museum Christmas display in Tarentum.

The Allegheny-Kiski Valley Heritage Museum in Tarentum will host a post-Christmas Open House for the community Dec. 27.

“It's our way of saying thanks,” says Dolly Mistrick, board president of the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society. “This is our third year presenting our event. We want to thank our members, volunteers and the public for supporting us throughout the year.

“Stop in and enjoy complimentary hot chocolate, cider coffee, cookies, crafts and entertainment.”

Visitors will learn the stories behind the antique decorations on one of the six trees displayed in the museum. They also will catch a glimpse of yesteryear when they check out a large Alcoa aluminum tree — popular in the '60s — with its rotating, colored spotlight. The museum is housed in an art deco building constructed in 1931.

“We have two wonderful local choirs singing,” says board member and volunteer Helen Strzesieski, open-house chairwoman for the second year. “One is a children's group called History Makers, from Abundant Joy Fellowship Church (in Tarentum). The children sang last year, and they were so adorable and good.”

Another adult singing ensemble, Baker's Dozen, will sing Christmas songs, with performances slated to begin at 1 p.m.

“We had about 100 people stop by last year, a good turnout,” Strzesieski says. “Instead of hitting the crowded malls after Christmas, come by with the family for a nice afternoon. I loved last year, the singing especially, because I come from a singing family.

“We decorated nicely this year,” she says, “with six trees decorated.”

“We have a vintage 1947 Santa suit on display,” Mistrick says. “It's an original from Kaufmann's (department store), and we tell the children that Santa donated his old suit to the museum when he went back to the North Pole. The kids get a kick out of that. It's so beautiful, the velvet.”

Jamie Stoner, curator of the museum and a society volunteer for eight years, looks forward to this annual event.

“It's so nice that it's after Christmas, and people are more relaxed, because they aren't rushing around getting ready for Christmas. They come in and visit and talk about their Christmas traditions and enjoy the fellowship. The kids that sing from Abundant Life, they are just adorable.”

“Also, we added three door prizes this year,” she says, “We are raffling off tickets for The Children's Museum in Pittsburgh. We have a men's raffle and women's raffle, too.”

The Alle-Kiski Valley Historical Society is a nonprofit organization, whose primary mission is to preserve, celebrate and support the cultural and ethnic history in the Allegheny and Kiskiminetas river valleys. Volunteers and new members are encouraged.

“I am Polish and love history,” Strzesieski says. “When an old building goes, a piece of my heart goes with it.”

Joyce Hanz is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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