Plans for the Weekend (and a couple of days next week)

As the weather flickers back and forth between unseasonably warm and seasonably chilly and holiday preparations are in full swing (Happy Hanukkah to those celebrating the festival of lights in the coming week), sites on the Trails of History are hosting a number of programs. Many of them are long-cherished traditions in their communities. Most were listed in last week’s post, but they bear repeating, I think.

If you’re reading this Friday morning and are within an hour or two of Boalsburg, you still have time to get to the “Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Tribute” at the Pennsylvania Military Museum, which starts at 12:45 pm. There will be a brief ceremony under the USS Pennsylvania guns (adjacent to the museum parking lot) that were at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Attendees will then be invited into the museum to view a documentary on the attack that includes interviews with American and Japanese veterans. (Please note that the museum is open only by appointment until Charter Day weekend in March.)

Pennsbury Manor’s annual “Holly Nights” program concludes this evening (6-9 pm), with entertainment, firelight, greenery, hot cider, and cookies. You can tour the Manor House by candlelight, make a pomander ball, listen to instrumental and choral music performed by groups from the local community, and see a Mummers Play (mumming is a British holiday tradition—you can read more about it here). Check out Pennsbury’s website here for the entertainment schedule and a downloadable discount coupon.

Holly Nights 2011, photo by Don Giles

“Home for the Holidays,” Saturday only (9 am-5 pm) at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, provides music, costumed interpreters representing railroaders and passengers of days gone by, a chance to send Santa a telegram, and cocoa (while supplies last). The program is included in regular admission, so you can also catch the museum’s Civil War exhibit before it closes on Dec. 30 or try out the new virtual tours using the touchscreen kiosks or your own mobile device. Best of all, the recently installed geothermal climate control system in Rolling Stock Hall makes a winter visit much more comfortable than you may remember. (A model train layout on loan from the Museum will be on view for visitors to the Governor’s Residence Open House on Sunday, Dec. 9; go here for info on this public event.)

“Victorian Christmas” continues this weekend at Eckley Miners’ Village. The Sharpe House, built in 1861 and restored to its 1874 appearance, is decorated for the holidays. Enjoy cookies and tea; tea cups and Christmas ornaments will be available for purchase to support the museum’s programs (donations are also welcome). The program takes place from noon to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday. You can find photos of last year’s event on Eckley’s Facebook page here.

“Country Christmas Village” is Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum’s annual exploration of Pennsylvania German holiday customs. Christmas trees of many varieties, an elaborate miniature village scene, and a visit with der Belsnickel (more “Get off my lawn” than “Ho, ho, ho,” but still not to be missed). Be sure to stop by the tavern for hot cocoa and gingersnaps. The program is included in regular admission and takes place Saturday, 10 am-4 pm, and Sunday, noon-4 pm.

Old Economy Village, photo via Facebook

Not to confuse things, but on the other side of the state, Old Economy Village will present its traditional program, “Christmas at the Village,” this weekend. Paths will be lit by lanterns, and visitors can browse beautiful handmade gifts in the Feast Hall, tour the cobblestone street by candlelight, and enjoy some 19th-century window shopping. There will also be activities for children, including a visit with Belsnickel, who will check his book to see who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Please purchase tickets at the Visitor Center and then take a horse-drawn carriage to the village. The program takes place Saturday, 2-9 pm, and Sunday, 2-7 pm.

On Sunday, Daniel Boone Homestead presents “A Homestead Christmas,” complete with crafts, light refreshments, blacksmithing demonstrations, and horse-drawn wagon rides. The Wayside Lodge will be playing the role of Santa’s Workshop as kids visit with Jolly Old Saint Nick and help him make 18th-century-style toys. Shop for unique gifts in the museum shop (and enjoy some wassail) and keep an eye out for the Belsnickel. That’s right, Santa AND Belsnickel on one day—you can compare and contrast as you learn about different Christmas traditions. Admission is $4 for ages 4-12 and $6 for ages 13 and older; Friends of DBH get in free. The program takes place on Sunday only, noon-4 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead, photo via Facebook

If you can’t make it to Washington Crossing on Dec. 25 to see the Christmas Crossing event, you might want to attend the “Dress Rehearsal” this Sunday. In addition to the practice run for the yearly reenactment of Gen. George Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River, Sunday’s event includes lots of other activities including open hearth cooking. Last month, the Chicago Tribune listed the Crossing events in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to its list for travelers who want to start new family holiday traditions. (Thanks to the PA Tourism PR Team's (@patourismpr) Twitter feed for that little piece of news.) Go here for more info. Admission is $4 for ages 5-11, $8 for 12 and up; the event runs from 11 am to 3 pm, with the crossing at about 1 pm.

By the time you read this, tickets for “Christmas at the Cloister,” Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 10-11, (that’s Ephrata Cloister, of course) may be sold out, but it’s worth checking (seats for the 9 pm performances always go last, so if you’re able to stay up that late you may be in luck). You’ll find more info here.

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, visitors to Drake Well Museum will be admitted for free if they make a donation to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. This is the museum’s third free admission day this fall offered in partnership with a community organization (previous efforts collected food and household supplies for a local food pantry and for the local YWCA shelter for women and children). If you haven’t seen the new exhibit at Drake Well, this is a great opportunity to do so and help the museum help the Titusville community.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have a wonderful and safe weekend!


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