ShareThis Page

St. Nick to bring feast day celebration to Ford City

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
Nikki Mantini of Ford City shows a letter that Saint Nicholas wrote to her children when they where children. On Thursday,Saint Nicholas will visit the Ford City Park gazebo from 3 to 5 p.m. and Divine Redeemer School from 5 to 7 p.m. to give out traditional small treats. Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times

FORD CITY — St. Nick is coming to town on Thursday.

But he won't be dressed in his usual red suit trimmed with fur. Instead, he'll be wearing his traditional bishop's robe and tall miter to celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas.

Children of all ages are invited to visit him at the gazebo in Ford City Park from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. at Divine Redeemer School. Both are along Fourth Avenue.

Nikki Mantini of Ford City said the tradition of celebrating St. Nick's Day was passed down through the Polish side of her family, through her mother, Genevieve. In fact, Nikki remembers that as children, she and her sister and brothers would receive letters from St. Nick. Curiously, the handwriting looked a lot like the Genevieve's.

And even after Nikki and her siblings grew up, the letters kept coming — this time arriving for their children.

Nikki saved the letters. One letter written to her two children begins with the line: “I am so proud of you —”

But it also cautioned the kids to behave or they might end up with coal in their stockings.

The tradition of celebrating St. Nick's Day is part of the heritage of many immigrant families who traveled to the area from Europe.

For some, the day was marked by children hanging stockings up or leaving their shoes out on the night before Dec. 6, in the hopes of finding a treat waiting for them the next morning.

Gen Klimkowicz Ray, grew up in Ford City and said she remembers hanging up a stocking for St. Nick to fill on the night before his feast day.

“A few times my brothers got coal,” she said, adding that on occasion the treats would be hidden somewhere else instead of inside the stockings.

She also remembers that for her family, the day was marked by walnuts being thrown in the door — which had a way of startling the kids.

Ray, who helped decorate the gazebo this year for St. Nick's visit said she appreciates how the Mantini family have worked to keep the old tradition alive.

“There are many traditions,” said Nikki. “Everybody has their own version of St. Nick.”

She said her mother started the custom of having St. Nick visit Ford City 25 years ago. Nikki's brothers built the gazebo in 1987, and now children who lined up to get a picture taken and receive a treat will be bringing their own kids.

At Divine Redeemer, students have been busy making paper shoes to leave out Wednesday night for St. Nick to fill. On his feast day they plan to welcome St. Nick with food, games, cookies, basket raffles and a book fair.

But the day is not just for children, said Nikki.

“Young and old can come out,” she said. “It's not just for kids. We encourage older people to come out too.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

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.