Checking My Calendar Twice...Yep, It's December

Well, here we are with another year drawing to a close. They say that time moves faster the older you get, but this is ridiculous. There’s so much to do. (Breathe.) I hope that in the midst of the busyness, you can spend some time on the Trails of History. As you probably know, site schedules really start to vary this time of year, so be kind to yourself and check ahead to make sure the site you want to visit will be open when you plan to be there. All sites (except Washington Crossing) will be closed on Dec. 25; but otherwise, there are lots of things to see and do. Enjoy.

Anthracite Heritage Museum
Dec. 3, 14th Annual Christmas in a Small Town (aka The Santa Train)—the Museum is a partner in this celebration that brings Santa to six communities in the Lackawanna Valley on a train provided by Steamtown National Historic Site. All activities are free, but (unfortunately) train rides for the public are not a feature of the program. For more info, go here. To see a YouTube video of the 2009 Santa Train (and watch the snow pile up), here’s a link.

Conrad Weiser Homestead
Dec. 3, Open House Holly Trail—the Friends of Conrad Weiser Homestead book store will be offering a great selection of books (10% off), along with painted boxes and chests by artisans Eleanor Sweeney and Jan Taylor.

Cornwall Iron Furnace
Dec. 3, 16th Annual Christmas at Cornwall House Tour—some tour entries are new this year, others may be ones you’ve missed. Purchase tickets in advance for $15, on the day of the tour for $20; contact the site for details.

Daniel Boone Homestead
Dec. 4, A Homestead Christmas—scheduled activities include open hearth cooking, colonial music and dancing, tours of the Boone homestead and other historic buildings, a flintlock shoot, 18th-century crafts, and Belsnickel.

Eckley Miners’ Village
Dec. 3, Children’s Christmas—storytelling, arts and crafts, a wagon ride through the Village and a visit from St. Nicholas; program is recommended for ages 5-12. Reservations are required (contact the site); admission is $5 per child, $3 per adult.
Dec. 3-4 and 10-11, Victorian Christmas Fundraiser—the Sharpe House will be decorated and lit for the season, with Victorian ornaments and gifts (beverages and cookies will also be provided); admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children age 6-12.

Ephrata Cloister
Dec. 12-13, Christmas at the Cloister—a popular evening program featuring readings and music in the historic meetinghouse; space is limited and reservations are required (tickets went on sale at the beginning of November, so call 717-733-6600 now to see if there are spaces remaining).
Dec. 27-30, Lantern Tours—special evening tours bring the site and its history to life; student historians work with staff to present this perennial favorite. The 2011 tour explores education in a variety of forms at the Ephrata Cloister. Reservations are required as the space in each time slot is limited. Call 717-733-6600.

PHMC/Erie Maritime Museum & US Brig Niagara

Erie Maritime Museum and US Brig Niagara
Dec. 9, Christmas Tree Ship—learn the story of the schooner Rouse Simmons, which went down in a storm on Lake Michigan in 1912 carrying a load of Christmas trees. Enjoy holiday crafts, seasonal goodies, and lights on the rigging of Niagara. Bring along hats, scarves, mittens, and/or non-perishable food items to help local families (or contact the museum to find out about helping with a Christmas tree to donate).

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Dec. 3-4 and 10-11, Country Christmas Village—experience a Pennsylvania German Christmas while you learn about Christmas trees and traditional holiday foods. There will be craft activities for children and you may run into Belsnickel (he’s like Santa, but edgier). Included in museum admission.
Dec. 16, Holidays at Landis Valley—this free evening event welcomes the community to sing carols around the bonfire, tour the historic buildings, and enjoy cookies and hot cider. Please bring non-perishable food items for the Lancaster Food Bank.
Dec. 17, Old Fashioned Children’s Christmas—this year’s program is built around the theme “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and includes several holiday crafts. Admission is charged, but members of the Landis Valley Associates get in free (makes a great holiday gift, too).
Dec. 27 and 28, Winter Camp—combat school break boredom by attending either or both days of this engaging program. Hands-on activities include open hearth cooking. Registration fee is required (multi-day, multiple child, and member discounts are available); call 717/569-0401 x228 for more details.

Old Economy Village
Dec. 3, Breakfast with Belsnickel—a breakfast buffet, plus loads of activities for children 5-12 years old (adults may enjoy a guided tour while the young ones take part in the program). Reservations required (fee is $25 per child), call 724/266-4500 x101.
Dec. 4, Friends of Old Economy Village Annual Christmas Dinner—start with wine and hors d’oeuvre in the Granary, then dine by lantern light in the historic Feast Hall. For reservations ($60 for FOEV members, $65 for non-members), call 724/266-4500 x101.
Dec. 10-11, Christmas at the Village—the site opens at 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday for a program of tours, music, and traditional German foods (there will be plenty of activities for children). Admission is charged.

Pennsbury Manor
Dec. 1 and 2, Holly Nights—okay, so it’s already the second night, but if you hurry you can still make it. Candlelight, bonfires, carolers, and craft demonstrations (I think there’s some cider in there too) set the mood for a winter’s night (click here for a discount coupon).
Dec. 10, Wreaths and Greens Workshop—learn how to turn evergreen boughs into a lovely wreath and how to care for evergreens in your home landscape. Registration is required (215/946-0400) and it’s BYOClippers.

PHMC/Pennsylvania Military Museum

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Tribute—this event marks the 70th anniversary of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s attack on the US Pacific Fleet in Hawaii and will take place beneath the guns of the USS Pennsylvania, which was docked at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Pennsylvania State Archives
For your listening pleasure, the staff of the State Archives has selected 15 episodes of Harrisburg broadcaster and historian Pete Wambach’s “This is Pennsylvania” radio program (which aired throughout the state from 1964 to 1985). These seasonal selections (you’ll need to scroll down the page) last about 3 minutes each and include transcriptions. The piece titled “Snow Shovel Championship” features a 1976 downhill race near Ambridge and mentions Old Economy Village (the snow shovel race will celebrate its 49th year in January 2012). Who knew?

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Dec. 3 and 10, Home for the Holidays—this annual event offers a nostalgic glimpse of train travel throughout the 20th century and includes costumed interpreters, seasonal music, a chance to visit with Santa and send a “telegram” to the North Pole (plus hot chocolate and cookies while they last). The Polar Express Parties are sold out for this year. (The Railroad Communications and Signaling exhibit closes Dec. 31.)

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Dec. 10, The Power of Story in Song and Dance—this free concert will feature Chinese, Bosnian, and Liberian traditional artists associated with the exhibit “Making It Better: Folk Arts in Pennsylvania Today.”
Dec. 16, Little Elves Workshop—parents and grandparents are invited to bring children (ages 4 to 7) to the State Museum Store from 10 am to 2 pm to make a special holiday gift while the grownups shop. Fee charged; free to museum members. From noon to 6 pm that day, as part of “3rd in the Burg,” shoppers will find special offers on creative gifts and stocking stuffers (admission to Store is free).
Dec. 17, Fatherhood and Family Holiday Celebration: Celebrating Kwanzaa & Christmas—offered in partnership with Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers Wordshop, this community celebration features music, food, and much more. Free of charge.
Dec. 29, Noon Year’s Eve—young children and their families can ring in the New Year a little early at this annual event. Included in museum admission; free to museum members.

PHMC/Washington Crossing Historic Park

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Dec. 11, Dress Rehearsal—reenactors will conduct a full run-through of the Christmas crossing of the Delaware, and there will be other activities on site as well in the historic buildings; admission is charged.
Dec. 25, Washington Crosses the Delaware—the annual reenactment of the daring move by George Washington and his troops to attack the garrison at Trenton; free of charge. To find out about winning a spot in General Washington's Durham boat for the dress rehearsal or the Christmas crossing, go here.
Dec. 31, 235th Anniversary of the Crossing of the Delaware and the Battle of Trenton—this reenactment event (which I believe is held only every 10 years or so) takes troops from Washington Crossing Historic Park (PA) to the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton (or they can join up on the New Jersey side of the Delaware). Registration is required to participate (the public is invited to watch); go here for more information.


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