Here are 10 creative, generous and fun ways to celebrate the holidays in Central PA this year. There's giving, getting, eating, decorating - and a beverage to accompany them all!
DONATE TOYS FOR KIDS
Toys for Tots • Harrisburg; www.toysfortots.org
Each year members of the U.S. Marines Corps Reserves work with 78 area churches and organizations to collect and distribute Toys for Tots. About 48,000 toys were collected last year. The mission? To make sure that no child goes without a toy on Christmas morning.
Did you know? About 50,000 children in Harrisburg and the surrounding area benefited from the program last year
THINK BIG BOWS
Highland Gardens, Lower Allen Twp.; 717.737.8633; www.highlandgardens.org
Highland Gardens creates bows of all sizes each holiday season for wreaths, swags, lamp posts, arrangements, grave sites, as well as for special oversized gifts such as cars and pianos. Last year, they used 3,944 yards of ribbon in their bows.
So, if you want to tie on a big bow, nursery manager Erica Shaffer recommends steering your reindeer toward Lower Allen Twp.
Did you know? Red velvet bows were requested by 75 percent of all customers last year.
|SEE THE WONDER
Pennsylvania Capitol Rotunda Christmas Tree 2011
Harrisburg Last year’s 21-foot Concolor tree was donated by the Botek family from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Carbon County. It was decorated with more than 300 handmade ornaments from 25 senior centers from across the state.
“Handmade ornaments create good will and joy as they become part of this year’s tree,” said Secretary of Aging Brian Duke.
Did you know? Last year’s tree also featured 600 LED lights.
GO FOR A REAL TREE
McCurdy’s Tree Farm, Carroll Twp.; 717.432.4017 www.mccurdystreefarm.com
Did you know? It takes seven years for a tree to grow seven feet.
DONATE FOOD AND TIME
During the average year, the Central PA Food Bank in Susquehanna Twp. serves about 250,000 people from 27 counties in and around Central PA. In the capital region, for example, about 90,000 people are served annually.
Food bank workers move 20 million pounds of food or 15.6 million meals each year. Because of the economy, many people who once donated or volunteered at the food bank now require its services.
MAKE OLD-FASHIONED CANDY
Clear toy molds were first produced in 1853 in Philadelphia. The candies were the toys children received as Christmas presents back in those days. Nancy Fasolt, author of “Clear Toy Candy: All About the Traditional Holiday Treat With Steps for Making Your Own Candy,” estimates that she has made more than four tons of traditional clear candy toys during her lifetime.
In the Lancaster company’s kit, there are 29 individual impressions, including 50 lollipop sticks and 50 cellophane bags. Yellow is the natural color of the syrup.
Did you know? Ideally, clear candy is made at 34 degrees Fahrenheit with no humidity.
GROW AN UNUSUAL POINSETTIA
With 12 acres of greenhouses dedicated to the cause, Esbenshades Garden Center sold roughly 240,000 poinsettia plants to customers in seven states last year.
“Esbenshade’s Holiday Evening of Joy is a great time to preview all the new varieties and enjoy free food, activities and live Christmas music,” said Terry Esbenshade, owner, of the event held during the evening of Black Friday, Nov. 25.
Did you know? The center grows 67 varieties that range from red and white to pink marble and peppermint.
S. Clyde and Emma Weaver started their business in 1920, and it became famous for its smoked meats and cheese.
Sand tarts are also a holiday favorite from the bakery and feature more than 15 colors of decorative sanding sugar. (Four hundred pounds of sanding sugar is used each year.)
Weaver’s most popular cheese is Super Sharp Canadian Cheddar which is aged for 1,825 days. Every vat of cheese is sampled and graded for a precise flavor profile before it enters the aging program.
Did you know? During the holiday, Weaver’s uses more than seven miles of plastic wrap and almost 37,000 feet of ribbon.
SIP A SEASONAL FAVORITE
Troegs Mad Elf Beer — which is 11 percent alcohol by volume — gained its name with the appearance of a crude elf sketch on a napkin. At the factory, the filler runs about 100 bottles a minute for an average about 200 packed cases an hour.
Did you know? The midstate brewery moved to Derry Twp. this fall.
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