Hit the water, but don’t forget your wetsuit. Canoers and kayakers once again can take to the Lackawanna River for a chilly ride through Scranton as part of the annual ShiverFest, which raises money for Lackawanna River Conservation Association. The event will take place Saturday, Jan. 19, with the Extreme Kayak/Canoe Race starting at noon and an after-party following from 2 to 5 p.m. at Backyard Ale House, 523 Linden St., Scranton.
The race will kick off at the Parker Street Landing (off East Parker Street in Green Ridge) and end at Sweeney’s Beach just off Green Street in the Pine Brook neighborhood. LRCA Executive Director Bernard McGurl called the race “a lot of fun to watch.” “We get about 50 participants on the water, so you’re going to see 50 boats getting paddled down the Lackawanna River in the middle of winter,” he added. “And it’s right through the heart of Scranton, so there’s plenty of room to see it on any of the flood control levees. … There’s lots of places to see it.”
As for those on the water, they seem to enjoy the opportunity to “get out and meet up with some friends and do some crazy wintertime kayaking,” McGurl said, noting that some participants in the past have dressed in costume. Racers must be 18 or older and provide their own watercraft and gear. Race participants can register the day of ShiverFest, but McGurl encourages them to do so in advance. “We strongly recommend that they have a wetsuit or a drysuit (on), because the water temperature is down in the 30s, and it will get hypothermic if they get in the water,” McGurl said. Organizers will have a campfire going at the finish line to kickstart the thawing, and then the fun continues at Backyard Ale House, where guests can warm up and enjoy food, drinks, basket raffles, a 50/50 drawing and camaraderie. The race costs $30 per racer and includes admission to the thaw party. Spectators can view the race for free, but admission to the party for non-racers will cost $20. “We’re hoping to raise a few hundred dollars at the thaw party,” McGurl said. Proceeds from ShiverFest benefit LRCA, which recently moved its offices to a former church and rectory in North Scranton, which McGurl said “need lots of modernization and repairs and upgrades.” That includes electrical work and some recent plumping fixes. “We just did a Giving Tuesday project for our … program, but (this fundraiser) is going into the general fund, and we really need it because we don’t have a lot of grants at the present time,” McGurl said. The organization also is working on some bigger cleanup projects along the river, is encouraging local municipalities to unite to create a municipal stormwater authority and is “actively engaged in acquiring some new parcels of land, and that will help further development of the (Lackawanna River) Heritage Trail and our partners,” McGurl said — all projects that could benefit from ShiverFest.
It’s that time of year for the “new year, new me” resolutions, and the 15th annual Winter in the City cocktail fundraiser can help everyone start off right by giving back to their community. “The evening is a feel-good event that provides the opportunity for people to get out of the house after the holidays and shake off their cabin fever,” said Joshua Mast, co-owner of POSH at the Scranton Club and event chairman. POSH, 404 N. Washington Ave., will host the charitable events Fridays, Jan. 18 and Feb. 8, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Admission costs $20, and all proceeds will go to Scranton Tomorrow’s small-business promotional initiatives, such as a new maintenance program to be established downtown in the spring, new banners and replacement planters. Complementary beer and wine is provided, and a cash bar also will be available. Attendees can get a taste of 20-plus Scranton restaurants with menus ranging from pizza, pasta and salads to wings, desserts and much more.
“We have such a variety of vendors in hopes that our guests will feel inclined to visit them on their own free time,” Mast said. Paul LaBelle and the Exact Change, a nine-piece ensemble, will provide the entertainment for January’s party. In a silent auction, guests can win gift cards from local businesses, baskets, artwork and more. February’s Winter in the City, meanwhile, will tie into a Valentine’s Day theme. Group du Jour will get the evening going with an upbeat musical performance. “The entire setting will be centered around Valentine’s decor,” Mast said. Scranton Tomorrow has other projects in its sights that could benefit from the fundraisers, including a pocket park at Wyoming Avenue and Linden Street set to be completed by 2020 and a new event, Electric City Cycling, that will be held Friday, Aug. 24, and Saturday, Aug. 25. The latter event will include a community-friendly ride for all forms of bicycling on the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail and a twilight ride.
With POSH’s location in the city, just a block from Lackawanna County Courthouse Square, Mast noted, people who attend the party also can wander around the downtown and see what Scranton is all about. “We have regulars and new attendees that trickle in every year to support,” he said. “It’s important to engage the community and bring everyone together to grow as one.”
Stay cool. Just because it’s the dead of winter doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up inside your house. Weekend Times rounded up wintertime programs, festivals and events across the region. Whether indoors or outdoors, there’s something for everyone this season. The fun never stops in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Scranton Tomorrow’s Winter in the City cocktail parties Admission costs $20 and proceeds benefit Scranton Tomorrow. When: Fridays, Jan. 18 and Feb. 8, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Where: POSH at the Scranton Club, 404 N. Washington Ave. Details: 570-963-1575 or the event’s Facebook page.
Let’s Talk Wellness: A Speaker Series Jump-start your wellness journey with a free lecture, discussion and question-and-answer session with Jess Doncses about digestive health. When: Saturday, Jan. 19, 3 to 5 p.m. Where: Jaya Yoga, 320 S. State St., Clarks Summit Details: 570-319-1726 or info@JayaYogaStudio.com
Lunar eclipse viewing When: Sunday, Jan. 20; observatory opens at 9:30 p.m.; eclipse ends at 1:50 a.m. Where: Thomas G. Cupillari Observatory at Keystone College, Hack Road, Fleetville Details: 570-945-8402 or email@example.com
Irish Whiskey Pairing Guests can enjoy five whiskey and appetizer pairings along with flatbreads, various cheeses, carved Italian meats and grilled vegetables as Dustin Douglas provides live music. Tickets cost $39. When: Thursday, Jan. 24, 7 to 9 p.m. Where: Molly O’Shea’s at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp. Details: 570-831-2100
Pocono Winter Beerfest 2019 Tickets cost $35 for general admission and $50 for VIP. When: Saturday, Jan. 26, 1 p.m. Where: Sherman Theater, 524 Main St., Stroudsburg Details: 570-420-2808 or shermantheater.com
Wizardfest — ‘Harry Potter’ party Enter the wizarding world of the Boy Who Lived with this “Harry Potter” party including themed drinks, a costume contest, quidditch pong, dance party and prizes. Tickets cost $15 for advanced general admission and $25 for advanced general admission plus a wand. When: Saturday, Jan. 26, 3 to 8 p.m. Where: Stage West, 301 N. Main Ave., Scranton Details: Visit the event’s Facebook page.
Winter Fest 2019 See 21 curated films in 21 days. Tickets cost $8.50 for each film, excluding opening night, which costs $25 and includes popcorn, snacks, wine and beer. Reservations are required for opening night. Pre- and post-festival events are free. When: Preview day, Wednesday, Jan. 30, noon to 6 p.m.; opening night, Friday, Feb. 15, 6 p.m.; festival, Saturday, Feb. 16, through, Thursday, March 7; post-festival discussion, Friday, March 8, 1 p.m. Where: Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga Street, Tunkhannock Details: dietrichtheater.com
Emo Night Scranton with Craig Owens Sing along to early- to mid-2000s emo and screamo hits with former vocalist of band Chiodos, as well as involvement in projects such as badXchannels. When: Saturday, Feb. 2, 7 p.m. Where: Stage West, 301 N. Main Ave., Scranton Details: Visit the Facebook event page.
Wyoming County Reads — ‘The Color Purple’ by Alice Walker Discussions are facilitated by Bill Chapla, Dr. Marnie Heister and Dr. Richard Hancuff. Screenings are free. When: Book discussions, Wednesdays, Feb. 6 to 27, 7 p.m.; film screenings, Wednesday, March 6,1 and 7 p.m. Where: Book discussions, Tunkhannock Public Library, 220 W. Tioga St.; screenings, Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock Details: 570-836-1677 or 570-996-1500
Galentine’s Day Celebrate girl power with a take-home craft, mimosa bar and chocolate treats. Seneca Ryan Co. will snap photos of groups in front of fun backdrops. Each time slot costs $40 and can fit up to 25 people. When: Saturday, Feb. 9; 40-minute time slots from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Where: Chippy White Table, 5 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock Details: chippywhitetable.bigcartel.com
Indoor Winter Farmer’s Market Items for purchase include fresh juice, free-range meats, honey, canned goods, bread, produce, cupcakes, cheeses and more. When: Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through May 18 Where: UNC South Side Winter Farmer’s Market, 509 Cedar Ave., Scranton Details: 570-346-0759 or South Side Farmers Market on Facebook
Shiver by the River 10K/5K run/2-mile walk Registration costs $15 in advance and $20 the day of the race. Packets can be picked up Friday, Jan. 11, from noon to 7 p.m. at Scranton Running Co., 3 W. Olive St. Race shirts are available for the first 150 participants. When: Saturday, Jan. 12; registration, 8:30 to 9:45 a.m.; race begins, 10 Where: Race starts and ends at Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, 3 W. Olive St., Scranton. Details: runsignup.com/Race/PA/Scranton/ShiverbytheRiver1
Ski for Colin Tickets cost $25 for half-day or evening lift tickets. Proceeds benefit suicide prevention and family support. When: Sunday, Jan. 13, 12:30 p.m. Where: Elk Mountain Ski Resort, 344 Elk Mountain Road, Union Dale Details: 570-679-1414 or the event’s Facebook page
Snowshoe and Yoga on the Trail Reservations are required for yoga and snowshoe loans. There is no charge for snowshoe rental, but there is a $5 donation for yoga. When: Saturday, Jan. 19, 10 a.m. to noon Where: Meet at Rail-Trail Council office, 948 N. Main St., Union Dale Details: 570-679-9300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ShiverFest 2019 Race entry costs $30 and includes a ticket to the post-race Thaw Party, which runs from 2 to 5 p.m. at Backyard Ale House, 523 Linden St., Scranton. Watching the race is free. Racers must be 18 or older, wear a personal flotation device and provide their own kayak or canoe. Wetsuits are strongly recommended. Proceeds benefit Lackawanna River Conservation Association. Tickets for the Thaw Party only cost $20 and include food, drinks and entertainment. When: Saturday, Jan. 19, noon to 5 p.m. Where: Parker Street Landing, Lackawanna River, 12 E. Parker, Scranton Details: Visit the event’s Facebook page.
Splashin’ with Compassion and Polar Plunge 2019 The event is free to attend and includes basket raffles, music and more. There is a $35 donation for participants to take the polar plunge, which benefits Friends of Shannon McDonough. Costumes are encouraged but not required. When: Saturday, Jan. 26; registration, 10 to 11 a.m.; plunge, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Where: Montage Mountain Resorts, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton Details: Visit the event’s Facebook page.
Wally Ice Fest Event features Pocono Pond Hockey Tournament, a curling demonstration and more. When: Saturday, Jan. 26, and Sunday, Jan. 27 (backup dates: Saturday, Feb. 9, and Sunday, Feb. 10) Where: On and around Lake Wallenpaupack, Pike and Wayne counties Details: wallyicefest.com
Clarks Summit Festival of Ice presents Ice Wars Annual event takes it back to a galaxy far, far away in its 15th year with a “Star Wars” theme, including ice sculptures, carving demonstrations, family-friendly fun and more. When: Friday, Feb. 15, through Sunday, Feb. 17 Where: Various venues throughout downtown Clarks Summit Details: theabingtons.org
Torchlight Parade & Fireworks Annual event features 75 to 100 employees and friends of Montage Mountain skiing down Mainline Trail outside the lodge, each carrying flaming torches. A pyrotechnics and musical fireworks display immediately follows. Live music from Neil NiCastro Duo will be inside Slocum Hollow Bar & Restaurant from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free, but a lift ticket is required to partake in any snow sports that day. When: Saturday. Feb. 16, 5 to 10 p.m. Where: Montage Mountain Resorts, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton Details: montagemountainresorts.com
Rock 107 Cardboard Box Derby Teams of sledders 10 and older will build their own cardboard box sleds to win more than $2,000 in prizes. A snow-tubing party takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the tubing plaza. Food and drink also will be on hand. When: Sunday, Feb. 24; check-in, 7:30 a.m.; derby, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Where: Montage Mountain Resorts, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton Details: montagemountainresorts.com
Montage MountainFest The event features pond-skimming, entertainment, giveaways and more. When: Saturday, March 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Where: Montage Mountain Resorts, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton Details: montagemountainresorts.com
Nature Discovery Hike with Naturalist Nancy Wottrich The program includes a two-hour hike on and off the trail. Reservations are required for snowshoes. When: Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m. Where: Meet at Rail-Trail Council office, 948 N. Main St., Union Dale Details: email@example.com
If you find yourself at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Jan. 12, all of your wildest dreams will come true. At 7 p.m. that night, the downtown Wilkes-Barre venue will welcome the leads from cult classic film “Napoleon Dynamite” for a special screening and question-and-answer session. Jon Heder, who played the title character in the 2004 indie hit, will be joined live in conversation with supporting cast members Jon Gries, who played his Uncle Rico in the film, and Efren Ramirez, who was unforgettable as new student Pedro Sánchez, who becomes Napoleon’s best friend and (spoiler alert) successfully runs for class president thanks to some sweet dance moves. Before the trio of actors hits the stage, Weekend Times spoke with Ramirez by phone from his hometown of Los Angeles (where we caught him in the middle of “eating Frosted Mini-Wheats,” he admitted) and got answers to a few questions about how being part of “Napoleon” changed the course of his career. Q: Tell me about how this role changed your life. A: You study and you train and you do the work as an actor. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. In high school, I would do a lot of plays, and in college, I studied theater. For a number of years, I did TV shows and commercials. When I did “Napoleon Dynamite,” everything changed. You play such a unique character. When you do a movie, you have no idea the results. You read a script and you go, “This is really cool,” and you do it. It just so happened to fit. You go out and see all these “Vote for Pedro” T-shirts, and then you see bobbleheads and action figures. You would never think that would actually happen. Some of the perks are sometimes I go into places for free, but the other thing is I do get mobbed.
Q: What do you wish fans knew about the movie and what your character meant to you? A: Two things, the first: sometimes people forget that the movie was made by students at (Brigham Young University). They were film students, and it was their very first film. It was shot at the very moment when movies went from film to digital, and it was hard for them. When they marketed it, nobody wanted to produce it. When I read it, I said, “What is it? Who is this Pedro guy?” But they took a chance and raised half a million dollars altogether. I remember them telling me their struggles just to make that happen. When I came onboard, I wasn’t so sure myself. I was working on a Fox show called “Boston Public” and a Disney show, “Even Stevens,” where I played a bully. When I got “Napoleon Dynamite,” I was making choices as Pedro, because you start to create a character and you hope it works. We hoped to have a great time telling the story. First time I met Jon Heder was in wardrobe, and he was dressed up as Napoleon and he said, “Are you Pedro?” (in the character’s voice). We just knew that we loved what we were doing. We enjoyed it, no matter how low the budget was. It was difficult, but we made it happen. Once you put it together and it got in several film festivals and from there was bought up (by major studios), and we had no idea (that would happen), but what I can say is, we all took a risk in something we love to do and trusted that what we were creating, that something was going to occur out of that.
Q: Do you have any regrets about how “Vote for Pedro” T-shirts or some of your most quotable lines have become huge pieces of pop culture? A: No, there are no regrets. I met actors who have played (iconic) roles, and all I could tell you is, I’m grateful. Because of “Napoleon Dynamite,” I bought my parents a house, I got my own house, I get to live a life where I can choose different projects to work on, I get to play different characters. I was able to travel around the world. It’s an interesting life, living as an actor. I used to DJ at raves to pay for studying acting and writing. I did it to survive, because it was a way I could use my voice. I was very shy, very quiet, when I was younger. I was the nerd. I’m still a nerd. But now because of involvement in “Napoleon Dynamite,” I’m able to use my voice and really select how I can go and change with different characters. One thing that I know is that you never want to play the villain in a movie, because then when people see you, they kind of hate you. (Laughs) But Pedro is somebody that a lot of people loved because he’s somebody you would never think would want to become (class) president. Every character in “Napoleon Dynamite” is so relatable because they come from a small town where nothing much happens, and they’re really trying to figure life out.
Q: You’ll be appearing with Jon Gries and Jon Heder. Have you all maintained relationships since the movie? A: Working as an actor, when you start working on production, you immediately become family. “Napoleon Dynamite” was very unique because it was extremely low-budget, and you get to know who everyone really is. I still talk to everyone. Jon Gries is a director, and his father was a director, and because of him I learned a lot about working as an actor and writer and how directors really tell a story with movies. I would do Comic-Cons with Jon (Heder) as well, and people went bananas to see us as Napoleon and Pedro together. We’re all living different lives, but reach out to each other. We’re constantly surprised and constantly grateful. __________________________________________________________________________________________
If you go What: “Napoleon Dynamite”: A Conversation with Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez and Jon Gries When: Saturday, Jan. 12, 7 p.m.; doors open at 5:30 Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre Details: Tickets cost $25, $35 and $55 for general admission and $99 for VIP meet-and-greet, plus fees, available through the box office, online at kirbycenter.org and by calling 570-826-1100.
1. Brewga: A Yoga and Beer Tasting Event If you’re looking to relax and unwind after the holidays, Brewga may be the event to attend. The yoga and beer-tasting social will take place Saturday, Jan. 12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Susquehanna Brewing Co., 635 S. Main St. Pittston. The event will feature Alyssa Miller from Home Yoga & Barre, West Pittston. Guests can bring their own mats, but they can be provided upon personal request. While finding that perfect balance, share a few drinks with your friends. Each person will receive two pints of beers for tasting. Tickets cost $20 and can be reserved online at schedulebliss.com.
2. Eliot Lewis of Hall & Oats Musician Eliot Lewis of award-winning web series and weekly TV show “Live From Daryl’s House” returns to Plains Twp. this weekend. Hosted by special guest App, Lewis and friends will perform Saturday, Jan. 12, from 8 p.m. to midnight at River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 N. River St. The independent artist and multi-instrumentalist has performed around the world, in such places as the Hollywood Bowl and on “The Voice” and Conan O’Brien television show. Lewis recently partnered with legendary duo Daryl Hall and John Oates. Tickets cost $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show and $15 for the show and a VIP meet-and-greet. Tickets are available at riverstreetjazzcafe.com.
3. Mountain Sky Orchestra Mountain Sky Orchestra will perform Friday, Jan. 11, at 8 p.m. at Stage West, 301 N. Main Ave., Scranton. Spend the night grooving with folk rock, Grateful Dead, jam and family-style music at the 21-and-older event. The band’s lineup includes Joe Statuto, Michael G. Mizwinski, Tommy Evans, Kevin Cucura, Brian Mac and Michael “Ragu” Rogowski, according to its Facebook page. For details, visit the Facebook event page.
4. NEPA Bridal Show The annual Northeast PA Bridal Show is back in town Sunday, Jan. 13, from noon to 3:30 p.m. at Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave. Guests can meet with dozens of vendors offering a variety of professional services — including catering, planning services, floral, entertainment, photography and much more — until 2:30 p.m., at which time a fashion show will begin. Those attending also can win numerous prizes, including a cash grand prize. Admission is free. To pre-register, visit nepabridalshow.com.
5. Family Ice Fishing Program The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will host its Family Ice Fishing Program on Saturday, Jan. 12, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lackawanna State Park, 1839 Abington Road, North Abington Twp. In this free program, families can learn the basic skills needed to ice fish, such as rigging, using a tip-up, working a jigging rod, and selecting bait and lures. Information about basic ice safety will be covered, too. All equipment will be provided. A parent or guardian must accompany participants under 18. The fishing license requirement is waived during the program for participants 16 and older. Advance registration is required and can be done register-ed.com/events/view/134657.
When “Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic” comes to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, it’ll honor a century of memorable movies with timeless songs and smooth skating. The tour takes up residence at the Wilkes-Barre Twp. venue for eight shows over five days, running Wednesday, Jan. 9, through Sunday, Jan. 13. Tickets start at just $15, making it a budget-friendly post-holiday outing for the whole family. Marcus Mimidis, a native of Lancaster, will return to his home state to perform in the show’s ensemble. It marks his first time hitting the ice in the Wilkes-Barre area, which will be “new and exciting,” he said during a recent phone interview from Boston.
Mimidis said audiences can find him in several segments throughout the night, including the opening number in which he plays a member of Mickey Mouse’s marching band. He’ll also appear as a citizen of Arendelle later during a “Frozen” piece and as a Chinese soldier in a “Mulan” moment. “This is a variety show, so you’re going to see the most characters,” especially compared to past “Disney on Ice” tours, Mimidis promised. “We have 50 characters, 14 different stories, and we go as far back as ‘Pinocchio,’ ‘Snow White’ (and) ‘The Lion King’ but also include more modern tales, like ‘Finding Dory,’ ‘(Tangled)’ and ‘Frozen.’ There really is something for all generations.” Watching families in the audience is one of his favorite parts about participating in the Disney tours, Mimidis said. “To see their reactions, everyone sandwiched together — parents and their reaction to their children seeing their favorite characters — everyone is in a good space and happy place,” he said. “It’s also nostalgic for the parents.” Mimidis got his start in skating at 9 years old after watching the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Now a member of the U.S. Figure Skating Association, he skated competitively for years before joining “Disney on Ice,” having previously performed in the “Princesses and Heroes” tour before “100 Years of Magic.”
Traveling the country with fellow figure skaters of similar backgrounds has been a gratifying experience, he said, and being part of the Disney family has changed him for the better. “It’s quite rewarding to be part of the show. After training for so many years and competing for so many years, I kind of have a different respect for skating and using my talents in a different way,” Mimidis said. “It’s really cool to work with other skaters who understand, and we share that and … learn from each other. I’m definitely more outgoing on the ice in my performances. I let myself go and get into characters more. It’s not as stressful, because I don’t put pressure on myself to be perfect like I would in competitions.”
A winter tradition that brings together Pennsylvanians for a week of food, entertainment, contests and more returns this week. The annual Pennsylvania Farm Show celebrates its 103rd year as it showcases the best the state has to offer in agriculture, livestock and other categories. Here’s what you’ll need to know if you want to join the fun.
Where to go The show takes place at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center, 2300 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg. The complex includes three arenas and 11 buildings.
When to go The farm show food court will be open Friday, Jan. 4, from noon to 9 p.m., and parking will be free that day. The full show then will be open Saturday, Jan. 5, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 6, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Monday, Jan. 7, through Friday, Jan. 11, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Saturday, Jan. 12, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Organizers advise that the best time to go is between 8 a.m. and noon and that the show is busiest from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
What it costs Admission is free, but those parking on the two nearby lots can expect to pay $15. Visitors can park at the lot at Elmerton Avenue and Sycamore Drive or at Harrisburg Arena Community College on Wildwood Park Drive. A free shuttle runs between the lots and the complex entrances. Another free shuttle service will run between the complex and downtown Harrisburg weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
What to see Visitors can get up close to some of the nearly 6,000 animals who will make the trek to the farm show, where their owners and handlers will show of their features and abilities as part of the numerous contests going on throughout the week. Guests also can check out the 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits.
What to eat Find a wide range of Pennsylvania-made and -grown products and dishes at the food court in the Expo and Main halls. Groups serving items include the Pennsylvania Bee Keepers Association (honey ice cream, bottles of honey, beehive products and more), the Pennsylvania Cooperative Potato Growers Inc. (baked potatoes, French fries, potato donuts and more) and the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association (milkshakes, milk, ice cream sundaes, toasted cheese sandwiches and more).
What to experience Judges will spend the week honoring the Pennsylvania’s best in categories such as wine, baked goods, poultry, cheese and more. Visitors also can view various demonstrations, from Agricultural Education to sheep-herding to honey extraction; learn more at educational programs; and check out the wares of numerous vendors. Other events include magic shows, story time, rodeos, celebrity chef programs, horse pulling and much more. Check farmshow.pa.gov for the full schedule of events and programs. And as always, the annual farm show butter sculpture will be sure to draw a crowd.
For more information Visit farmshow.pa.gov or call 717-787-2905 for details, and head to the farm show’s Flickr album to view photos from past editions.
Best Place For a Bachelor Party
Mohegan Sun Pocono
Best Place For a Bachelorette Party
Maiolatesi Wine Cellars
Best Place For a First Date
Best Place to Buy An Engagement Ring
Glint of Gold
Best Wedding Gowns
Best Wedding Registry
Over The Moon
Best Wedding Venue Constantino’s Catering & Events
HEALTH AND FITNESS
Best Bowling Alley
South Side Bowl
Best Gym/ Health Club
Best Place to Go Camping
Shore Forest Campground
Best Place to Picnic
Lackawanna State Park
Best Trip Just an Hour Away
Best Zumba Crunch Fitness
Best College Radio Station
Marywood University’s VMFM 91.7
Best Morning Radio Show Prospector
Best Radio Station ALT 92.1
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Best All Ages Venue
Scranton Cultural Center
Best Art Venue
Mohegan Sun Pocono
Best Concert Venue
The Pavillion at Montage
Best Dance Company
Dave Ragnacci School of Dance
Best Local Band
Best Local Festival
La Festa Italiana
Best Movie Theater
Best New Event
Food Truck Friday at Nay Aug Park
Best New Local CD
Best Ongoing Cultural Event
St. Patricks Day Parade
Best Open Mic
Best Original Band
Black Tie Stereo
Best Party Cover Band
Best Place to Shoot Pool
Best Theater Production
Sound and Song: Over done and over-sung
EATS AND DRINKS
Lynn Sandy’s Bakery
Best Beer Menu
Backyard Ale House
Best Boneless Wings
Nina’s Wing Bites & Pizza
The Eatery By Jessica
State Street Grill
Steve & Irenes
Best Chinese Restaurant
Best Coffee Shop
Best Cup Of Coffee
Electric City Bakehouse
Krispy Kreme, South Abington Township
Best Food Truck
The Sweet Lush Cupcake Camper
Best French Fries Ale Mary’s
Best Frozen Yogurt Sweet Frog
Best Hot Dogs
The Original Coney Island (Cedar Ave.)
Best Ice Cream
Manning Farm Dairy
Best Italian Food
Best Italian Ice
Ritas Of Scranton
Best Japanese Restaurant
Best Liquid Lunch
Backyard Ale House
Best Long Lunch (tie)
■ Peculiar Slurp Shop
Best Lunch On a Budget
McDonalds Dollar Menu
Best Lunch on The Go
Zuppa Del Giorno
Best Mexican/ Southwestern Restaurant
Best New Restaurant
Best Patio Dining
State Street Grill
Best Place to Eat Organic
Terra Preta Prime
Best Potato Pancakes
Christ The King Parish Picnic, Eynon
Best Romantic Restaurant
Best Round Pizza
Caravia Fresh Food
Coopers Seafood House
Zuppa Del Giorno
Best Square Pizza
Terra Preta Prime
Sushi and Thai
Best Thai Restaurant
Thai Rak Thai
Best Vegetarian Menu
Eden; A Vegan Cafe
Best Wine Menu
Lucchi Family Wine Cellars
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GOODS AND SERVICES
Best Animal Hospital
Memorial Veterinary Hospital
Best Barber Shop
Loylaty Barber Shop
Best Bicycle Shop
The Daisy Collective
Best Car Dealership
Toyota of Scranton
Best Car Wash
Best Cigar Shop
Big House Tobacco
Best Comic Book Store
Comics on the Green
Best Dry Cleaner
Dempsey’s Fashionable Laundry
Best Farmers Market
Scranton Farmers Market
Best Garden Store
Corky’s Garden Path
Best Hair Salon
Sanderson Place Salon & Spa, Greenridge
Best Health Food Store
Best Jewlery Store
Steve Pronko Jewelers
Best Local Brewery
Susquehanna Brewing Company
Best Men’s Clothing Store
Best Mom/ Pop Grocery Store
Best Pet Supply Store
Stately Pet Supply
Best Pipe Shop
Best Place To Buy Beer
Best Place to Buy Music
Gallery of Sound
Best Shoe Store
Scranton Running Co.
Best Ski Shop
The Ski Shack, Montage Mountain
Best Music Store for Equipment
Best Tanning Salon
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Best Dentist Dr. Jason Hanyon Century Dental
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Tiff Kline/Kilne’s Korner
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Fetching Grooming Salon
Electric City Tattoo
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Constantino’s Catering & Events
(Kelly, Alicia and Brooke)
Best Wedding Singer/ Band Light Weight
From the camel that was stranded on Route 309 during the November snow storm, to presidential tweets, 2018 was full of facepalm-worthy moments. And when it came to bringing these to light, voters did not disappoint.
Here are the top five:
1 “Camel on 309 during snow storm” and “the drive home after the Nov. 15 snowstorm.”
2 “Trump,” “anything trump tweeted” and “Trump trucks.”
Scranton-born musicians are coming home for the holidays, and they’re bringing their friends with them. The annual NEPA Holiday Show, featuring native Scranton band the Menzingers, will take the stage Saturday, Dec. 22, from 5 to 10:30 p.m. at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave. New this year, the band switched up the acts on the show to feature new bands, said Tom May, Menzingers guitarist and singer. Some hold Scranton roots, such as Dark Thoughts, whose bass player hails Scranton, and Abingtons native singer-songwriter James Barrett. Pacific-Northwest band Ramona just wanted to see what the NEPA Holiday Show was all about. Changing up the bill adds something fresh to the much-loved event which, May said, is an anticipated part of the holiday season for the performers and fans.
“Every year, people reach out to us asking about it earlier and earlier,” he said. “It’s really become almost an institution on its own.” Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show, available at nepaholidayshow.com. The event also will include a Toys for Tots drive and raffle. Each person who donates a new, unwrapped toy will be entered to win a bundle including shirts, sweatshirts and autographed LPs and EPs. Philanthropy is at the heart of the show. Proceeds benefit art and music programs for kids in the Scranton area, which remains close to the musicians’ hearts. “When we got our start, it was in the music and art scene in Scranton, and that’s what’s allowed us to travel the world and follow our dreams and have those experiences,” May said. “Those programs inspire and help so many people, and we want (the programs) to keep feeding those younger generations.”
May noted there’s a great amount of nationally and internationally recognized artists who hail from the region, and the band almost can guarantee to run into a few fellow natives in their travels. No matter where they go in the world, it’s a feeling like no other for the Menzingers and other bands from NEPA to play in their hometown. “It’s always fun to come back home and play this event and just see everyone,” May said. “This is such a tight-knit community. It’s such a great area to be from.”
The holidays bring plenty of time to reconnect and celebrate with family, but after a couple of days of lazing about, you may find yourself faced with a new question: What to do now?
Our occasional feature, “10 Things,” highlights some of the region’s best offerings and provides helpful tidbits. Today, we feature 10 local activities that are both fun and free to enjoy while you wait to ring in the new year.
Holiday lights Nay Aug Park, 1900 Mulberry St., Scranton, lights up every year with displays of lighted characters and holiday scenes. Cruise through the display from the warmth of your car and explore this annual tradition, lit from 5 to 9 p.m. Another popular spot to see holiday lights is at the Peckville Christmas House at 1130 Marion St., where visitors will find an elaborately decorated property full of lights that celebrate the holiday spirit. One new activity this year is a scavenger hunt in which guests can try to find 11 unique decorations. The house lights up Mondays through Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and Fridays through Sundays from 5 to 10 p.m.
Festival of Trees Another holiday exhibit open into the new year is the Festival of Trees, located on the second floor of the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton. For the annual event, local businesses, schools, churches and nonprofits donate and decorate a holiday tree, with proceeds benefiting Toys for Tots. The Festival of Trees will be on display through Sunday, Jan. 13. For more information, call 570-963-6590.
Be Daring Open Mic Step out of your comfort zone and show off your talents at the Be Daring Open Mic at Adezzo, 515 Center St., Scranton. Even if guests don’t want to perform, they can enjoy a change of scenery, sip their favorite cafe beverages and support local talent. Open mics take place on the last Wednesday of every month, with the next one set for Wednesday, Dec. 26, at 7 p.m. There are 10 available spots to perform that are first come, first serve. Sign-up begins at 6:30 p.m.
‘The Nutcracker’ Ballet Theatre of Scranton presents “The Nutcracker” in partnership with Marywood University as a free gift to the community every year. The ballet will take place Wednesday, Dec. 26, through Friday, Dec. 28, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. in Marywood’s Sette LaVerghetta Center for the Performing Arts, 2300 Adams Ave., Scranton. Tickets will be available at the box office two hours prior to each performance. For more information, call 570-347-2867 or visit balletscranton.org.
Indoor Farmer’s Market Find locally sourced fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, wine, baked goods and more at the South Side Farmers’ Market, 509 Cedar Ave., Scranton. Created by the United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the market is open throughout the year on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 570-346-6203 or visit the market’s Facebook page.
Local history There’s lots of local history and heritage in Northeast Pennsylvania to pique your curiosity. Waverly Community House, 1115 North Abington Road, designed “Destination Freedom,” a self-guided walking tour, to allow guests to visit and learn about local sites that were a part of the Underground Railroad. You can walk the tour from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Maps are available in the Abington Visitor’s Center at the Comm’s main offices Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guests also can arrange to pick up maps outside those hours by calling 570-586-8191, ext. 7.
Locomotive Shop Tour Learn all about what goes into repairing and maintaining steam locomotives at Steamtown National Historic Site, 350 Cliff St., Scranton. A 45-minute walking tour of the Locomotive Shop of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad will depart from the site’s visitor center every day except Christmas and New Year’s Day. You can join a park ranger or volunteer at either 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. to learn all about this integral part of local history. Registration and reservations aren’t required; however, schedules are subject to change for safety inside the shop. Guests are advised of potential heat and noise they may encounter during the tour. For more information, visit nps.gov/stea or call 570-340-5200.
Seven Tubs Nature Area At Seven Tubs Nature Area, visitors can trek on the 1.8-mile loop trail that takes them past the numerous natural wonders on display — a series of waterfalls along Wheelbarrow Run that formed as water flowed over potholes (aka tubs) in the bedrock. Situated on 500 acres accessible at 900 Bear Creek Blvd., Plains Twp., the moderate trail also is open to dogs, so grab your furry friend for and fill your lungs with the fresh, cold winter air. Visit delawareandlehigh.org for more information.
Second High School Art Show and Celebration of the Arts View some of the region’s top student artwork at Penn State Wilkes-Barre’s latest exhibit the second High School Art Show and Celebration of the Arts. Open through Jan. 21 in Friedman Art Gallery, the exhibit features the work of students from Lake Lehman, Tunkhannock Area and Wyoming Valley West high schools; the Creative and Performing Arts Academy from Wilkes-Barre Area School District; Sue Hand’s Imagery and Social Fabric Collective. Art teachers picked more than 50 of their best student pieces for the show. The gallery is located in Nesbitt Academic Commons, Conyngham Lane, Dallas, and is open to the public weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 570-675-9159 or email FriedmanArtGallery@psu.edu.
Lego Winter Reading Program Children can grow in their reading skills while also winning prizes in West Pittston Library’s Lego Winter Reading Program. Once registered, children will receive a Lego mini figure reading log and Lego bookmark. They can color one mini figure for every 20 minutes they read through Feb. 24 and then turn in their completed logs for a chance to win a Lego building book. The top reader will win a copy of “The Lego Ninjago Movie.” The Lego Club meets Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the library, 200 Exeter Ave. Children who cannot attend can post a picture of their Lego creation and the book they are reading in the library’s Lego Winter Reading Facebook group so their entries are recorded. For more information, call 570-654-9847 or visit wplibrary.org.
Thursday, Dec. 20 Bart & Urby’s, 119 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre: Trivia Night Bartolai Winery, Route 92 and Coolidge Avenue, Falls: Open mic with Big Al and Billy Edwards Boulder View Tavern, 123 Lake Harmony Road, Lake Harmony: Strawberry Jam Chacko’s Memory Lane Lounge, 195 N. Wilkes-Barre Blvd., Wilkes-Barre: Kartune Finnegan’s Irish Rock Club, 514 Ash St., Scranton: Dashboard Mary Grotto Pizza, 36 Gateway Shopping Center, Edwardsville: Bingo Night Grotto Pizza/Skybox Sports Bar, Wyoming Valley Mall, Wilkes-Barre Twp.: Know Limit Trivia HEAT Bar & Nightclub, 69-71 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre: Karaoke Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp.: Music for Models Trio Susquehanna Brewing Co., 635 S. Main St., Pittston: Karaoke night The V-Spot Bar, 906 Providence Road, Scranton: Christmas-Oke Wise Crackers Comedy Club at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp.: The Lab — Comedy Showcase
Friday, Dec. 21 279 Bar & Grill, 279 S. River St., Wilkes-Barre: Bill Hoffman BADS, 415 Main St., Luzerne: Karaoke Barrett’s Pub, 474 Main St., Archbald: Dashboard Mary Bean and Vine Cafe & Wine Bar at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp.: Piano Night Benny Brewing Co., 1429 Sans Souci Parkway, Wilkes-Barre: 20 lb. Head Bobby Keen’s, 117 W. Market St., Scranton: DJ Edwin Valez Boulder View Tavern, 123 Lake Harmony Road, Lake Harmony: Gary Dillon The Club at the Highlands, 2700 Highland Blvd., Archbald: Bill and Donna Arnold Finnegan’s Irish Rock Club, 514 Ash St., Scranton: Echo Creek Grotto Pizza, 36 Gateway Shopping Center, Edwardsville: Dave Cupano Grotto Pizza/Grand Slam Sports Bar, RR 415, Harveys Lake: Shelly’s Underground, Strawberry Jam Grotto Pizza/Skybox Sports Bar, Wyoming Valley Mall, Wilkes-Barre Twp.: Eddie Delucca Harry’s Bar, 302 Penn Ave., Scranton: Daddy-O & the Sax Maniax HEAT Bar & Nightclub, 69-71 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre: Inferno Drag Show Irish Wolf Pub, 503 Linden St., Scranton: Thrashterpeice, Threat Point, Black Horizon, Dissentience and Cruel Bomb The Keys, 244 Penn Ave., Scranton: Jingle Bell Ruckus II Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp.: The Ruth’s Chris Jazz Trio Thirst T’s Bar & Grill, 120 Lincoln St., Olyphant: Nowhere Slow Duo and Stevie K The V-Spot Bar, 906 Providence Road, Scranton: Mike Miz
Saturday, Dec. 22 279 Bar & Grill, 279 S. River St., Wilkes-Barre: The Wanabees Ale Mary’s at the Bittenbender, 126 Franklin Ave., Scranton: Black Tie Stereo Ali Baba Liquor Lounge, 219 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre: Lito Kirino Live Barrett’s Pub, 474 Main St., Archbald: John Quinn Bean and Vine Cafe & Wine Bar at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp.: Piano Night Benny Brewing Co., 1429 Sans Souci Parkway, Wilkes-Barre: The Blennd with Steve Skiro Boulder View Tavern, 123 Lake Harmony Road, Lake Harmony: The Frost Duo Chacko’s Memory Lane Lounge, 195 N. Wilkes-Barre Blvd., Wilkes-Barre: Strawberry Jam Finnegan’s Irish Rock Club, 514 Ash St., Scranton: Three Legged Dog Hog’s Hollow Saloon, 1459 Route 93, Berwick: Ugly Sweater and Xmas Party with LUTM III Guys Restaurant and Sports Bar, 95 N. Mountain Blvd., Mountain Top: The Pick Ups (Don Shappelle) Karl Hall, 57B N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre: Deck the Hall Christmas show featuring Indigo Moon Brass Band and Porter & Sayles Major League Sports Bar, 809 Main St., Sugar Notch: 2 Rockaholix Mil & Jim’s Parkway Inn, 24 W. Kirmar Ave., Alden: Ugly Christmas Sweater Party with Flaxy Morgan Pour Boys Bar, 932 Wyoming Ave., Scranton: Ron Morgan River Street Jazz Cafe, 665 N. River St., Plains Twp.: Start Making Sense Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp.: The Ruth’s Chris Jazz Trio Skytop Lodge, 1 Skytop Lodge Road, Skytop: Doug Smith Band Thirst T’s Bar & Grill, 120 Lincoln St., Olyphant: The Buzz Buzzyrd Ayres Christmas Concert and 3IB Tomato Bar & Bistro, 7 Tomato Fest Drive, Pittston: DJ The V-Spot Bar, 906 Providence Road, Scranton: Until Sunrise
Sunday, Dec. 23 Barrett’s Pub, 474 Main St., Archbald: Tom and Wiggy Bobby Keen’s, 117 W. Market St., Scranton: DJ Cadillac Culkin’s Christmas Eve’s Eve Party Finnegan’s Irish Rock Club, 514 Ash St., Scranton: King Jeremy HEAT Bar & Nightclub, 69-71 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre: Not Yo Granny’s Bingo Thirst T’s Bar & Grill, 120 Lincoln St., Olyphant: Black Tie Stereo with Always Undecided The V-Spot Bar, 906 Providence Road, Scranton: Karaoke with DJ Huff
Monday, Dec. 24 Border Bar, 170 Laurel Plaza, Pittston: Whiskey Hill Project Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp.: Erin McClelland The V-Spot Bar, 906 Providence Road, Scranton: DJ APTRIK
Tuesday, Dec. 25 279 Bar & Grill, 279 S. River St., Wilkes-Barre: DJ Lisa Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp.: Erin McClelland The V-Spot Bar, 906 Providence Road, Scranton: Kenneth Norton
Wednesday, Dec. 26 BADS, 415 Main St., Luzerne: Open mic night Boulder View Tavern, 123 Lake Harmony Road, Lake Harmony: Gary Dillion Levels Bar & Grill, 519 Linden St., Scranton: Karaoke with DJ Keith Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Route 315, Plains Twp.: Erin McClelland
It’s electrifying. The annual Festival of Trees exhibit kicks off this weekend with an Electric City holiday theme, which can mean an homage to Scranton’s electric roots — home to the first electric trolley — or a celebration of the city, said Maureen McGuigan, Lackawanna County deputy director of arts and culture. People and groups from across the region decorated or created from-scratch Christmas trees for the event, and she expects participants’ imaginations to run wild.
“We try to keep the theme specific but broad enough that there’s room for interpretation. That’s one of my favorite parts of this event is seeing everyone’s creativity and how they interpret the theme,” she said. “You can really see the organization or business or group’s personality cone through (in their tree).” This year’s exhibit runs from Friday, Dec. 14, through Sunday, Jan. 13, in the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton. Headed by Lackawanna County’s Office of Arts and Culture — which partnered with the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce — and the office’s event-planning committee, lots of local organizations, volunteers and more all get together to brainstorm ideas and pull off this annual event, McGuigan said.
For the second year in a row, the trees will be on display inside the Marketplace at Steamtown. Guests can find them on the second floor near Luzerne County Community College’s entrance. While McGuigan said she loves the festival’s past home, Electric City Trolley Museum, being inside the Marketplace allows for more eyes on participants’ hard work. “It’s more visible since so many people are coming through the (marketplace) during any day of the week,” she said. “It also just makes it look so nice for holidays and gets you into the spirit.” Exhibit admission is free except during the Dec. 14 opening reception, which runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and costs $20. Scranton DJ duo Saturbae will provide pop music and more hits, mainly from the late ’90s and early 2000s. “We like the entertainment to fit the theme, and (Saturbae) is fun and really brings the energy,” McGuigan said. “It’s definitely electric.” Local businesses Peculiar Culinary Co. and Electric City Bakehouse will serve food at the preview. Proceeds from the show and reception benefit the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program, which has been its longtime beneficiary. McGuigan said the Festival of Trees continues to be a favorite downtown holiday event, joined by other seasonal attractions such as Lackawanna Winter Market. It’s a tradition that celebrates residents’ creativity and, especially thanks to this year’s theme, highlights the pride they have in their home. “We have a great, rich history and a great present, too,” McGuigan said. “There’s so much going on in downtown and all over the region. This is a good time of the year to reflect on that.”
The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic can once again give the gift of music this holiday season. The orchestra will present its holiday pops concert Saturday, Dec. 15, 7 p.m., at Peoples Security Bank Theater at Lackawanna College, 501 Vine St., Scranton, and Sunday, Dec. 16, 3 p.m., at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre. Mélisse Brunet, interim music director said they worked hard on the program, which features classical holiday fair and other types of music. “It’s a nice mix for all communities of the cities. … Everybody can really feel welcome when coming to that concert,” Brunet said. After suspending operations for the 2017-18 season so it could develop a plan to stay financially viable, the orchestra returned to the stage in October, a show executive director Nancy Sanderson said sold out. “It was really great,” she said. “The audience seemed to be so happy to see the orchestra back on its feet.” When the orchestra went dark last season, Sanderson said she heard from community members about how much they missed the holiday concert. The returning favorite will feature many of the staples of past editions, such as the Choral Society of Northeast Pennsylvania; singer Erin Malloy, who will perform as well as lead an audience sing-along; and “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” featuring dancers from Ballet Theatre of Scranton. “(The march is) just such a tradition,” Sanderson said. “I think we would be booed out of town if we didn’t have that.” The audience also will hear the premier of a Klezmer piece Sanderson said is based on old Jewish melodies. It first was composed for band and clarinet solo and was just rewritten for orchestra and clarinet solo, Brunet said. “We always try to include something for people who practice the Jewish faith, and we have this incredible … piece this year that’s just fun,” Sanderson said. And as always, Santa and Mrs. Claus will stop by at the end of the show. Brunet, a Paris native who was the philharmonic’s apprentice conductor in 2016, took over for longtime conductor Lawrence Loh this year, and Sanderson said the orchestra has received “wonderful feedback.” “She’s fun,” Sanderson said of Brunet. “The musicians really love to play under her. She’s really clear about what she wants, and she’s got her own particular signature on everything she does. … The audience loves her because she’s just so charming. She likes to talk and interact with the audience, and she is really of the philosophy that a great concert is interactive.” And Sanderson said the orchestra is following a five-year strategic plan, which she described as “fairly modest the first few years so that we can settle our debts without having to go to the community and ask them to pay off (our) debts.” “People like to invest in the future and not in the past, and so we’re determined to do it the right way,” she said. Part of the plan involves Brunet remaining as acting music director through those five years, after which time the orchestra must conduct a search for a new leader in accordance with a union agreement. “But I sure hope (Brunet) submits her application,” Sanderson said. “She’s got great energy, and I’m really proud of the fact that we have a woman conductor right here in Northeast Pennsylvania, because it still is a man’s world. And that she has this position (and) this particular region of Pennsylvania wants her to be up there I think speaks volumes about open-mindedness and understanding the needs of the community.”
This Thursday’s show at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts just might be the cat’s meow. Television star Jackson Galaxy, host of Animal Planet’s hit series “My Cat From Hell,” brings his live stage show to the downtown Wilkes-Barre theater on Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6. Galaxy said audiences are unsure what to expect when they come to one of his live shows, where he shares his expertise. “They know it’s me, and past that they don’t know,” the cat behaviorist said recently by phone from a tour stop in Seattle. “But people have been incredibly receptive, and above all … (we have) had a really good time together. I’ve been going out to the lobby and signing things afterward. It’s what I hoped for.” On his TV show, Galaxy helps cat owners resolve conflicts and preserve their relationships with their felines so they don’t end up giving their cats to shelters. His stage show, “Total Cat Mojo Live,” will incorporate some of that advice by including a question-and-answer session for the audience. And if they want more information beyond that, he said, he has supporting material available on his YouTube page. “It’s great to be able to sort of grab the topic when I’m up on stage and then lead people to a more in-depth look at these things,” Galaxy said. With his television show, Galaxy said, he makes three visits and spends 10 to 12 hours a day in someone’s home. That’s isolating, but when he’s on stage, he experiences “a constant energetic give-and-take.” He will share information about cat history, diet, advice and more. “Just to get out there and just take a deep breath and interact is such a huge relief,” Galaxy said. Galaxy described his stage show as “inclusive” and “an affirmation that we are a community of people.” He said he likes to joke in the show that dogs have parks and play dates, but cats don’t. “We never get to get out there and have a communal event,” Galaxy added. “This is the cat party. … From the very outset, it’s a celebration.” People used to treat cats like second-best, he said, but now “there’s now a good deal more cats in homes in the U.S. than dogs.” “To have that affirmation that more and more people are seeking to celebrate it is a big deal. … And being able to look out there and see men and to see kids and to see an incredibly wide range in terms of the audience is also really encouraging,” Galaxy said. Thanks to social media and sites such as YouTube, cats have gained more attention in recent years through viral videos, memes and celebrity felines, such as Grumpy Cat. The world has reached “that wonderful tipping point now where the casual becomes the committed … and I’m more than happy to lead that charge,” Galaxy said. “My messaging throughout this show also is let’s now take it one step further,” he said. “If you’re going to spend time saying, ‘Oh my gosh, these are such cute cats on the internet’ … (we should) start putting our money where our mouth is. Let’s start advocating for them. Lets’s start advocating for all animals.” More than anything, Galaxy said, he hopes his audiences take away the knowledge that “having a cat is having a relationship, and it’s not about what you own. It’s about who you love and … it’s time for us to own that instead of owning that animal.” “I want us to start looking at our relationships,” he said. “And the response to that has been actually more accepting than I would have even imagined.”
Not everyone can make the leap from a school production to national tour in just a few months, but Ethan Cutillo did just that.
The 11-year-old South Abington Twp. boy made his stage debut in the musical “Rags: An American Musical” at Scranton Preparatory School earlier this year and now finds himself on the road with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.” Presented by Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the show will bring Ethan back home when it stops at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple for four shows from Friday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 9.
Ethan’s work on stage grew from his love of music. He has played piano for six years and loves to sing — including with the children’s choir at the Church of St. Gregory in Clarks Green — but had no formal vocal training. He nabbed his first stage role after learning through his church choir director that Prep was in need of a child actor and singer for its spring musical.
“I just felt it was so much fun to have the audience clapping and cheering me on, and the music just makes it really good,” Ethan said. “The cast was nice at Scranton Prep, so that was really cool. I … made a lot of friends.”
“He loved it,” recalled Ethan’s mother, Bobbie Cutillo. “And then we had an opportunity to audition in New York City, and we hesitated (at first), but we thought why not? … If nothing else, we’ll go to the city for the day.”
Following what she described as a “two-minute audition,” Ethan earned a callback for the following day. A few days after that second round, Ethan learned he’d been cast as Kurt, one of the von Trapp children, in “The Sound of Music.” Bobbie Cutillo said they were shocked that “a little kid from (the) Scranton, Clarks Summit area” could nab the role, but Ethan is really enjoying it.
The experience started with two weeks of rehearsals in New York City plus a week of technical rehearsals in Oklahoma City.
“It was pretty long, the rehearsals,” Ethan said. “And there (were) long hours, but it was a lot of fun because I got to make friends.”
Bobbie Cutillo said she broke down into tears when the music started to play for Ethan’s first show. There’s something about live theater that makes it great, she said, especially when your own kid is part of it.
“(I am) very proud of him, because he doesn’t have a lot of experience, but he’s certainly gaining it,” she said.
Ethan described his first time on stage with the show as “almost magical.”
“I really felt good, and it was just great having the audience cheering,” Ethan said. “It was the same feeling as Scranton Prep … but it was even more great. That was really fun, just having a lot of people cheering.”
The show will tour for about seven and a half months, and Ethan’s mom and dad, Dr. Doug Cutillo, will take turns accompanying him on the road.
“It’s very interesting,” Bobbie Cutillo said. “I think it’s very challenging, but he’s really experiencing things that most 10- or 11-year-olds (are not), and he’s keeping up with his school work. “
A fifth-grader at Our Lady of Peace School in Clarks Green, Ethan continues to follow his school’s curriculum on the road and has a tutor, too. Ethan expects some of his school friends as well as family to be in the audience this weekend, when they’ll get to see him sing, among others, his favorite song, “The Lonely Goatherd.”
“There’s a lot of surprises in that that I think the audience is going to have a great time, because Maria’s starting to teach the kids how to sing,” he said, adding that the actress who plays Maria “makes it so laughable.”
He expects audiences to find humor in the song “Do-Re-Mi” and the first scene with the Von Trapp children, when they march onto the stage.
“There’s a lot of surprises in the show I think make it great,” Ethan said.
All that combine with beautiful costumes, a talented cast and an outstanding orchestra to round out the show, he added.
“People can come and see the show because it’s not just for adults,” Ethan said. “It’s like a family show, so if you’re having a bad day, I think they should go to the show because it just makes them feel better. It turns their frown upside down.”