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Tour highlights Scottdale churches

| Friday, May 4, 2012, 2:33 a.m.

When Scottdale Chamber of Commerce member Cynthia Mulligan was asked to organize the borough's Christmas House Tour, she decided to do something unusual. Rather than featuring private homes, she decided to organize a tour that focused exclusively on houses of worship.

This year's Christmas Elegance House Tour 2006-The Houses of God, is slated for 2-7 p.m. Saturday.

Cynthia Mulligan said she felt featuring houses of worship would be a good way for people to see churches other than their own.

"Churches are open only on Sundays," she said. "I'm in my own church on Sunday. I wanted people to have the opportunity to see other churches. Most importantly, I want to put people in the Christmas spirit."

Mulligan's husband, Dennis, also a member of the chamber of commerce, said the tour will be a good way to showcase Scottdale's history.

"Many of these churches were built in the early 1900s when Scottdale was in its financial heyday," he said. "People took pride in building cathedral-like edifices for the worship of God. As a result, we have some of the finest churches in Southwestern Pennsylvania. This is an opportunity for people from Scottdale and not from Scottdale to see these churches."

Dennis Mulligan said it's a great way for people to start off the holiday season.

"People can enjoy the ambiance of the churches." he said. "They can take a peek at how other churches celebrate Christmas. They also can learn more about the history of those churches. If they're not from Scottdale, they can gain some insight into Scottdale's history and heritage."

Cynthia Mulligan began in October, asking church leaders to open their doors for this year's tour.

"I put out an ad. Other churches called me and volunteered for the house tour," she said.

Eleven churches are included in this year's tour, including Scottdale Mennonite, Calvin United Presbyterian and Trinity United Methodist. Visitors purchase tickets, then tour the churches they choose, presenting the ticket each time. Volunteers at each church will give patrons a verbal and/or written history of the church. Many churches also will provide refreshments.

Tickets are available at Collections by Marty, the chamber of commerce office, Fox's Pizza Den, and National City, Scottdale and Standard banks. Ticket price is $15 per person; proceeds benefit the Scottdale Chamber of Commerce.

Cynthia Mulligan hopes people experience the diversity of Scottdale's houses of worship.

"They're all different. There's something beautiful to see in every church," she said.

She hopes people "will make a day of it" and stay for Scottdale's Light-Up Night festivities, scheduled for later that evening at the gazebo on Pittsburgh Street.

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