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Candy Cane Castle still a big Norwin holiday draw

| Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, 3:47 a.m.
Ronald Vezzani Jr.| Daily News Taking a quick moment to visit with Santa Claus during the annual Norwin Senior High School Candy Cane Castle are Kailey -10 and Aubrey Sipes-5 of North Huntingdon.
Ronald Vezzani Jr.| Daily News Kaitlyn Karaffa-8 of North Huntingdon has here face painted by high school student Mary Hankewycz-15 during the annual Norwin Senior High School Candy Cane Castle on Saturday morning.

Norwin School District's Candy Cane Castle set an attendance record Saturday when about 1,500 people took part in the annual holiday celebration.

“I'm beginning to think we need a bigger place,” student council advisor Lynn Clark said. “The kids portray the costumed characters. People come for the crafts, the food. The show choir performs. The theater club performs in the auditorium. It's just a group effort from the whole school to put it together.

“It's bigger and better every year. More people from the community are finding out what a great thing this is.”

“It's gotten busier with more publicity,” student council president senior Corinne Dally said. “More people show up. It's getting more crowded and we try to accommodate everybody.”

Parents, students and volunteers helped with a basket raffle, food, games, crafts, face painting, dressing as characters such as Mario and Luigi, Elmo, Mickey Mouse, and the Disney princesses. Santa also made an appearance.

“All the kids love to see him,” Corinne said. “I think the costumed characters are the best.”

Twin brothers Matthew and Andrew Mahoney, 9, of North Versailles Township each brought a Christmas list to Santa.

“I gave Santa a very small list,” Matthew said.

Andrew said everything was awesome, and that they were having a good time with their aunt Joyce Weaving and grandmother Joan Fraas.

“We look forward to it every year,” Fraas said.

“It's well done, well organized,” Weaving said.

Candy Cane Castle is sponsored by Norwin's student council, theater club and show choir. The $5 cost of admission covered the costs, and the remainder of the funds will be donated to a local charity.

Planning for the castle starts a year in advance so that organizers can make proper renovations.

“We will reserve the date for next year probably within a week,” Clark said. “We just tell people when it is so they can clear their schedule. As soon as homecoming is done, we're really in high gear.”

Corinne said other student council members are being groomed to continue the castle tradition after she and the other senior councilors graduate.

“It really helps our events come together because of our dedicated council,” senior Elizabeth Mance, student council vice president, said. “(People) come to have a morning where they can get away and see Santa and see what awesome things we can provide for them.”

Retired student council advisor Clint Page attended Candy Cane Castles more than 30 years ago and was involved with the program for about 14 years.

“It's to the point now where you don't even have to advertise,” Page said. “People were calling to see when it is. Tickets are at a premium.

“When we were doing it early on, we had to build it to what it is now.”

Page said the castle is a very family-friendly event for the district and surrounding areas.

“The little kids' eyes light up when they see their characters, when they see Santa,” Page said. “Just looking at the kids' faces and their eyes, especially my grandkids now, that's what keeps you going.

“It's a lot of aggravation, but that's what makes it all worthwhile.”

Page attended Saturday's celebration with his children and grandchildren, including 5-year-old Maddie Page.

But he said he saw other adults in attendance who don't have children of their own.

“They're here with nephews or nieces or neighbors,” he said.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or

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