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Connellsville prepares to welcome Christmas with celebration

| Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, 1:16 a.m.
Nancy Henry | for the Daily Courier
Frosty welcomes everyone to “It’s A Connellsville Christmas.” Saturday is a one-day preview at the new Canteen, along with free skating for all ages, a live nativity, nonprofit cookies sales, happenings at the Carnegie Free Library, the Connellsville Area Community Center and more.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Pamela McKeel of Dunbar Township, a volunteer at the thrift store inside the Connellsville Area Community Center, works to decorate a tree on the second floor of the center. The tree is one of many being decorated for the “Hall of Trees” at the community center, which will be on display beginning Friday, for the weekend events and activities throughout Connellsville.

“It's A Connellsville Christmas” will welcome the holiday this weekend with Santa, skating, shopping and more.

The two-day event, organized by Downtown Connellsville, an initiative of Fayette County Cultural Trust, will offer activities for all ages on Saturday and Sunday. The event sponsor is Trib Total Media.

An 18-foot-by-50-foot synthetic ice skating rink, supplied by Future Skate, will be set up in the H&R Block parking lot on East Crawford Avenue. Skates will be available free for children and adults, or they can bring their own. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Sponsors are McClure & Wolf, Armstrong, Bud Murphy's Sports Bar and Restaurant, Davies Ford, House Financial, Ice Miners Amateur Youth Hockey Association and Superior K-9.

“This is something new for our event, and we are looking forward to it,” said Judy Eans, Downtown Connellsville Promotions Committee member. “Kids will enjoy ice skating on the unique surface, and adults will, too. It will add to the festive atmosphere of ‘It's A Connellsville Christmas.' ”

Visits and photos with Santa will be held in the Connellsville Canteen from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday. Children will take home a disk of their photo free, thanks to Jackie Lynn's Photography. Next door at the Children's Creativity Zone in ArtWorks, kids can make their own craft at no charge thanks to sponsorship from PNC Bank, Somerset Trust, The Health Insurance Store and Machesky Towing. Shoppers will want to stop in ArtWorks, too, where art, pottery, jewelry and so more can be found for gift-giving. Talented local artists' creations are masterfully displayed and available for purchase. Karen Hechler will be at ArtWorks signing the recently released “Around Connellsville” from 12 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Also on Saturday, the Connellsville Canteen will be open for a one-day preview. Visitors will see the Stage Door Canteen set with holiday decorations and one of the many themed backdrops, along with the World War II collection and photos that are the centerpiece of the project.

The Canteen is the result of a combined effort of local businessman Tuffy Shallenberger and the FCCT. Those who stop in will want to allow time to admire and read the many military profiles and be taken back in time by the many displays assembled with accuracy and care by curator Daniel Cocks. The memorabilia reflects a hard time for the United States and a huge volunteer effort on the homefront by Connellsville residents, many of them women. Among the many individuals featured on the walls of the Canteen are: Florence Shutzy Reynolds, Virginia Eberharter, the four Cavanaugh brothers, Albert Rock, Harvey “Doc” Sechler, John Hanlon and the many ladies of the Canteen.

Those who plan to spend the day may want to park and walk to many of the happenings. Nonprofit organizations are paired with local businesses to sell cookies on Saturday to raise money for their organizations. Each year, these partnerships have proved to be successful.

Host businesses and their nonprofits include Lid'l Lyn's with Fayette Friends of Animals; Spa Faces with Buy Local; Pat's Bridal with Erica Miller Rhetts Syndrome; ArtWorks with FCCT; La Boheme with Connellsville Historical Society; Carnegie Free Library, FRIENDS of CFL; West Side Jewelry with Finley's Fighters (also Sunday); and Val's Massage & Yoga Studio, Tyrone Presbyterian Church Mission; and Louisa Clawson for Finley's Fighters will be at Val's. The sales will start at 10 a.m. until all cookies are sold.

There are tours at several churches, a German Christmas Market with ethnic food at Trinity Lutheran, a craft fair at Central Fellowship and a lasagna dinner at Albright Church. Specific times for both Saturday and Sunday are listed in the event program provided by Stefano's Printing and available at the Canteen, ArtWorks and other participating locations.

“This is an opportunity to support your local downtown businesses and see the many exciting things that are going on,” said FCCT president Michael Edwards. “We are proud to be able to showcase our community through this fourth annual ‘It's A Connellsville Christmas.' ”

A live nativity will be presented 1-5 p.m. Saturday by Connellsville Area Ministerial Association, organized by Connellsville Area Community Ministries Executive Director Chip Rowan, assisted by Todd Reagan. CACM will be open for shoppers and hot chocolate will be served.

El Canelo will have its Mexican-themed nativity display, and traditional churros and hot chocolate will be for sale.

“Oh Come Let Us Adore Him,” a creche, nativity and angel display has been a part of the event since the first year. Presented from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Presbyterian Church by church members, visitors will be able to browse a presentation of more than 200 pieces, each one different from the rest. There are family heirlooms, books and 22 stables that were made by children of the Presbyterian Church Faith Finders youth group. The balcony holds additional displays, including the huge stained-glass window depicting the holy event of Jesus' birth. Sounds of the season will be played in the background, and visitors can have cookies, punch and coffee in the dining area. There is no admission charge.

St. Rita's Christian Mothers will hold its annual holiday cookie sale, featuring Italian knots, pizzelles and more, at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Area churches will participate with tours and meals.

At Carnegie Free Library, the FRIENDS of CFL will hold a one-day preview of Cafe Carnegie on Saturday. Coffee, cappuccinos, espressos and lattes, as well as panini, soups and desserts will be sold. Upstairs, a Christmas Market will feature vendors with gift-giving ideas, baked goods and more.

Two tours of the 110-year-old library will be conducted by FRIENDS member Rose Galik at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

At the Connellsville Area Community Center, a Hall of Trees will welcome visitors. A “Christmas Spectacular” will be presented in the Porter Theater there on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10.

Marketing sponsors are Bruner Insurance Agency, Davies Ford, Graft Oil Company, Kisiel & Associates PC, Scottdale Bank and T.A. Nelson Bus Lines. For information, go to

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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