ShareThis Page

Donegal-area groups hold Wonder of Christmas Gala

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:58 p.m.
For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Wonder of Christmas Gala held Dazzle the clown of the Classic Clowns Club of Johnstown paints the face of Kiara Firestone, 6, of Normalville during the Wonder of Christmas Gala held Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the Donegal Area Community Center. The event was organized by officials of both the center and the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society. Cami DiBattista | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Julia Miller, 4, of Champion pauses for a picture with Santa Claus at the Wonder of Christmas Gala sponsored by the Chestnut Ridge Historical Society and the Donegal Area Community Center on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. Cami DiBattista | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Kloey Keller, 5, of Stahlstown shows off her balloon animal and face paint at the Wonder of Christmas Gala on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. The event benefited multiple charities including St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and UPMC Children's Hospital. Cami DiBattista | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal

What began last year as a way to earn funds to repair the Donegal Area Community Center has blossomed into a festive Christmas tradition.

The Chestnut Ridge Historical Society and the Donegal Area Community Center recently presented the groups' second annual Wonder of Christmas Gala last weekend at the center.

The event — endorsed by the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce — was free to the public and brought in a fair number of participants.

Santa and his elves, live music and food and a larger- than-life Christmas tree made the event a truly festive gathering.

Entertainment included face painting, clowns and appearances by various costumed characters such as Frosty, Yogi Bear and the Caddie Shak Gopher.

Additionally, Ken Tosh of Ligonier brought his 16-foot, miniature Coca-Cola truck and discussed the history of Santa's affiliation with the soft drink company.

A 50-50 raffle was held along with a Chinese auction with more than 20 baskets from local merchants and individuals available.

Live Christmas music was provided by a choir headed by the Rev. Paul Friedhof, pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church in Acme and country singer Shawn Baird of Dawson.

“An event like this brings our local communities together and also gives charitable organizations the chance to spread their word,” said Eileene Rose of Acme, chairwoman of the event's board and a society member.

Money earned from the event went to various local charities and Pittsburgh-based hospitals, including St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and UPMC Children's Hospital. Proceeds also benefitted the center and the society.

“The day turned out so nice,” said Joe Sarnelli of Jones Mills, who is a board member at the center along with his wife, Rose Sarnelli.

The couple stressed the importance of keeping the Center in good condition for public use.

“It's a nice place for the kids to come to,” Joe Sarnelli said.

Rose Sarnelli said she came up with the idea for a Christmas event to benefit the center because she wanted to bring Christ back into Christmas.

“You always hear everyone saying ‘Happy Holidays' now; you seldom hear ‘Merry Christmas,'” she said. “It's important to remember the true meaning of Christmas as Christ's birth.”

The gala doubled in size from the year before, said Kris Enberg, executive director of the Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber was given clearance to display its Parade of Trees at the center which were decorated by area businesses and organizations, Enberg said.

“We've all grown together,” Enberg said. “This is such a fun-filled day.”

Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.