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'Christmas Wonderland' weekend is set for Mt. Pleasant

| Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Dennis Bowman said he perpetually works to perfect his vocal delivery.

A well-known, television news meteorologist, Bowman regularly holds assemblies for school children to exhibit his skills as both a weather science expert and a ventriloquist with “Chester Drawers” — a 42-inch tall wooden dummy.

“Whatever lines I'm delivering, I try to make it sound live,” Bowman said.

Bowman's craft as a public speaker/exhibitor took on a new form last year when he was pegged to recite “The Night Before Christmas” to those attending a holiday event in Bellevue Borough, Allegheny County.

“I tried to deliver that Santa voice when the time was right,” he said.

On Sunday, Bowman will get another chance to narrate the classic, lyrical tale of Yuletide anticipation written in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore.

Bowman's reading will follow Mt. Pleasant Borough's third annual Candlelight Procession.

The event, which is open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the borough's Central Fire Station on South Church Street.

Bowman's narration will serve as the finale to a weekend's worth of Christmas-themed activities titled “Christmas Wonderland — Mt. Pleasant 2013.”

“The idea of the Candlelight Procession was always to try and have special guest do one reading,” said borough Manager Jeff Landy, the event's organizer.

As public interest has grown since the procession's inaugural year in 2011, Landy said, it felt like the right time to bring in a speaker of Bowman's caliber to deliver the traditional Christmas tale.

“This event is becoming a tradition here in town ... it's becoming better known ... and I feel now is the time to bring in a special guest,” Landy said. “Hopefully, it will bring even more people out.”

Bowman was drawn into taking part in the procession by Landy's volunteer assistant coordinator, Mindy Smith of Bullskin.

Smith is the cheerleading coach at Verna Montessori School in Bullskin whose daughter, Jamie, is a second-grader there.

She approached Bowman about taking part in the event when he spoke there earlier in the fall.

“He accepted, and I was very happy,” Smith said.

“He was very, very nice. Hopefully, the community will come out to hear him, and it will be a big success,” she said.

Bowman said he is happy to have the opportunity to contribute to the Mt. Pleasant community in this way.

“This is the season of the spirit of giving, and I'm looking forward to coming to Mt. Pleasant, shaking some hands, and meeting all the people who come out,” he said.

“We're hoping for good weather, we'll see if we can make that happen.”

Adult/children's choir is planned

Not long after Dr. Eugene Dangelo retired in June as choral director at Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School, Landy asked the esteemed music professional to aid him in enhancing the carol singing that goes on during the procession.

“Gene told me, once he retired, he'd get involved with my crazy ideas,” Landy quipped.

In response, Dangelo is putting together an adult/children's choir to perform at the borough's gazebo at Veteran's Park following the procession.

“That was something Jeff wanted, to have nice, meaningful music ... I promised him I would not let him down,” Dangelo said.

As the procession makes its way along Washington Street to the park from the station, Dangelo said the choir will perform “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”

“We are going to sing a bunch of Christmas carols there at the gazebo,” he said.

Dangelo will hold a practice from 9-10 a.m. Saturday at the Central Fire Station's meeting room for anyone wishing to attend, he said.

“We've never had an actual choir, so that will be different,” Landy said. “What I like is it will be youth and adults combined.”

Parade to have a “Gingerbread” theme

The borough's holiday-themed procession — the “It's a Gingerbread Christmas” Parade — is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. Saturday on Main Street, Landy said. The event, sponsored by the borough and Mt. Pleasant Medic 10, will feature Santa Claus, who will make an appearance for children at the gazebo, he said.

As in years past, attendees will be offered hot chocolate and cookies by the Knights of Columbus Council 3334. This year, the local organization will also offer the treats to attendees of the candlelight procession following that event, Landy said. At noon Saturday, the public is also invited to take part in “Christmas at the Cabins” where adults and children can roast hot dogs and marshmallows over an open fire to be offered by the event's sponsor — the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society.

“There is no better place to feel the holiday spirit than Mt. Pleasant,” Landy said.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or

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