Whether for food or fun, a number of festivals take place around the region each year. Enjoy the wonders of the Lackawanna River during Shiverfest on Saturday, Jan. 13, then head to Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock, for two film festivals featuring foreign, independent and art films. Winter Fest runs Friday, Feb. 16, through Thursday, March 8, and the Spring Film Festival then takes place Friday, April 13, through Thursday, May 3, with special activities on each opening night. There will be special previews on Thursday, Feb. 1, and Thursday, March 29, and free post-festival discussions Friday, March 9, and Friday, May 4.
Join one of the biggest events in downtown Wilkes-Barre, the annual Fine Arts Fiesta on Public Square, in May. Celebrate a Midvalley tradition, St. Ubaldo Day and Race of the Saints, in Jessup over Memorial Day weekend.
The region celebrates its love of food with the annual Edwardsville Pierogi Festival, June 8 and 9, Plymouth’s annual Kielbasa Festival, held the second weekend of August, while the Pittston Tomato Festival takes place the third weekend in August.
Labor Day weekend offers the chance to commemorate the area’s rich locomotive history during Railfest at Steamtown National Historic Site and its Italian heritage at La Festa Italiana on Lackawanna County Courthouse Square.
Kids and family
Children can learn through a series of free stage shows geared toward grades three to eight at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Public Square, Wilkes-Barre: “Four Score and Seven Years Ago” on Wednesday, Feb. 21; “Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad” on Friday, March 16; and “Huck & Tom and the Mighty Mississippi” on Tuesday, April 24. The Kirby Center also will host family-friendly fare such as “Disney Junior Dance Party On Tour” on Friday, April 27; animal expert Jack Hanna on Saturday, April 28; “Peppa Pig Live: Peppa Pig’s Surprise” on Tuesday, May 15; and the free “The Greatest Pirate Story Never Told” on Saturday, May 19.
At Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp., families can catch “Disney On Ice presents Dream Big” from Thursday, Jan. 11, through Monday, Jan. 15; AMSOIL Arenacross Series on Saturday, Jan. 20, and Sunday, Jan. 21; “WWE Live” on Friday, Jan. 26; Monster Jam Triple Threat Series from Friday, Feb. 9 through Sunday, Feb. 11; the Harlem Globetrotters on Saturday, Feb. 24; and “Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes” from Thursday, May 3, through Sunday, May 6.
In Scranton, families can get into the Irish spirit with the city’s 57th annual St. Patrick’s Parade, set for Saturday, March 10, while Wilkes-Barre sees green with its parade on Sunday, March 11.
Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania has five more shows coming to Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., in the new year: “A Chorus Line,” Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25; “The Illusionists Present Adam Trent,” Friday, March 2; “Kinky Boots,” Friday, March 16, through Sunday, March 18; “Chicago,” Friday, April 13, through Sunday, April 15; and “Beautiful — The Carole King Musical,” Tuesday, May 8, through Sunday, May 13. Ticket costs vary.
Five Broadway vocalists — Jeanna De Waal, Jennifer DiNoia, Kara Lindsay, Kevin Massey and Jon Peterson — will perform hits from throughout the Great White Way’s history on Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton. “Broadway Spotlight,” also includes behind-the-scenes stories and a question-and-answer session.
At F.M. Kirby Center, theater fans will find “Dirty Dancing — The Classic Story on Stage” on Wednesday, Jan. 31 and Thursday, Feb. 1; “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” on Wednesday, Feb. 7; “The Wizard of Oz” on Friday, April 13; and “Cabaret” on Thursday, May 17.
The region’s numerous amateur and student theatrical troupes will present shows throughout the year as well.
Laugh throughout the year with comedy events all over the region.
Residents have the chance to see Jim Breuer at Gypsies Lounge inside Mount Airy Casino, 312 Woodland Road, Mount Pocono, Saturday, Jan. 13. Gypsies also hosts Bob Saget on Saturday, Feb. 3; Tracy Morgan Saturday, March 3; and Vic Dibitetto, Friday, April 6.
Breuer makes another stop in the area Wednesday, Feb. 28, at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, which then hosts “Blue Collar Comedy” star Ron White on Thursday, March 8. Jerry Seinfeld will deliver two performances there Friday, April 6.
Kevin Hart brings his Irresponsible Tour to the region Friday, March 16, at 7 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp. Crowds also can catch live comedy shows weekends at Wisecrackers Comedy Club inside Mohegan Sun Pocono, 1280 Highway 315, Plains Twp.
Music fills Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton, through the summer, with Camp Bisco gliding into the venue Thursday, July 12, through Saturday, July 14, and Peach Music Festival hitting the mountain, Thursday, July 19, through Sunday, July 22. Vans Warped Tour plays Scranton for the final time on Thursday, July 26, according to its website, although a venue was not announced.
Mohegan Sun Arena also will host a couple big-name concerts, with country act Little Big Town, joined by Kacey Musgraves and Midland, coming Thursday, Feb. 22, and Judas Priest playing Tuesday, March 13.
Wyoming Seminary will host “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. for a concert Wednesday, Jan. 17, in its Kirby Center for the Creative Arts, 260 N. Sprague Ave., Kingston.
At F.M. Kirby Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre, concert highlights include the inaugural Snow Show featuring Dashboard Confessional, presented by Alt 92.1 on Sunday, Jan. 28; Tedeschi Trucks Band, Thursday, Feb. 8; “American Idol” star Scotty McCreery, Saturday, Feb. 10; America, Thursday, Feb. 15; Blues Traveler, Wednesday, Feb. 28; Alice Cooper, Saturday, March 10; the Beach Boys, Saturday, March 24; Christopher Cross, Wednesday, April 4; the Drifters, Saturday, April 14; and Yanni, July 31.
By Gia Mazur and Caitlin Haney West
1. WVIA Ski Day
Glide down the slopes as WVIA holds its annual members’ Ski Day at Elk Mountain Ski Resort, 344 Elk Mountain Road, Herrick Twp.
Participants can check in at the Susquehanna County ski slopes from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The day ticket is good from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the twilight ticket works from 12:30 to 10 p.m.
Each ski package includes a lift ticket and ski rental.
Members of the public media station receive tickets based on their donation level: $40 for one ski package; $70, two ski packages; $120, four ski packages; and $250, eight ski packages. For more information or to become a member, visit wvia.org.
2. ‘Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead’
Act Out Theatre Group will present a Peanuts parody, “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” from Friday, Jan. 5, through Sunday, Jan. 14. Shows run Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. at the theater, 408 N. Main St., Taylor.
The “unauthorized parody” of the popular comic strip characters — Charlie Brown, Sally and the rest of the gang — shows them as teenage degenerates dealing with issues such as drug use, eating disorders and sexual relations. Parental discretion is advised because of the show’s adult themes.
Tickets are $15, available by emailing email@example.com or calling 717-504-0829. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page or actouttheatre.com.
3. The Menu
Eat, drink and learn at the next edition of the Menu.
Set for Monday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., the monthly culinary event will include food from city venues POSH at the Scranton Club and the Colonnade plus a related discussion.
Doors open at 6, and seating is first-come, first-served. Tickets are $12 and available at the box office, ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000.
4. Notre Dame Chorale
Hear a wide range of music straight from the University of Notre Dame at a concert on Tuesday, Jan. 9.
The Notre Dame Chorale, the university’s official concert choir, will perform at 7 p.m. in St. Robert Bellarmine Theater at Scranton Preparatory School, 1000 Wyoming Ave., as part of its annual winter tour. Admission is free, but donations are accepted and will benefit the chorale’s May trip to Ireland.
Sponsored by the Scranton Notre Dame Club, the concert will include a mix of classical, contemporary, seasonal and Notre Dame songs. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.
5. ‘Harry Potter’ movie and trivia
Test your knowledge of a beloved series when Abington Community Library hosts the “Harry Potter” Movie and Trivia event Saturday, Jan. 6, from 1 to 4 p.m.
The library, 1200 W. Grove St., Clarks Summit, will show the film “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth film in the series, followed by trivia. Participants can win prizes. The free program is geared toward adults 18 to 34. For more information, call 570-587-3440 or visit lclshome.org/abington.
Hamid Azizi turned to family recipes passed down among generations when he opened the Gyroz Club earlier this year.
Originally from Afghanistan, Azizi came in 2003 to Scranton, where other family members had settled. He works full-time as a supervisor at Americold in Gouldsboro but decided to open a restaurant after noticing a lack of options for people seeking kosher and halal foods locally.
Azizi and his family members have experience working in restaurant kitchens and have several cousins who own their own eateries around the country. He added his own to the fold in February when the Gyroz Club opened at 111 Wyoming Ave., the former spot of Curry Donuts.
“I saw this place was empty, vacant, for a while, and it was downtown, so it was a good opportunity,” Azizi said.
His wife, Nazifah Shah; his brother-in-law, Habib Mirzaye; his brothers and other family members all have full-time jobs, some in the medical field, but pitch in at the restaurant whenever and wherever they can, from the kitchen to the front counter. The dishes come from family recipes passed down from one generation to the next, making for a true Middle-Eastern taste that customers would find Azizi enjoying at home.
“It’s family-run, authentic,” he said. “Everything is homemade.”
The menu includes beef and chicken kabobs that all come with basmati rice he buys specially — customers can have the meat skewered or served over the rice — along with a garden salad, bread and white sauce, which Azizi calls “magic sauce.” He makes it with cucumbers, yogurt and other “secret ingredients” for what he described as a tasty, healthy combination. A Family Platter of kabobs serves four people.
On the gyro side, customers can pick from beef, chicken, vegetable, and a chicken and beef combo, all served in grilled pitas Azizi gets from a specialty store in New Jersey. They come with tzatziki, white and hot sauces, lettuce, fries and a drink.
Sandwiches, meanwhile, come with fries and a drink and include a Kabob Sandwich (marinated beef or chicken served on a pita with fried onions, grilled tomatoes, lettuce and tzatziki sauce) as well as more traditional American fare, such as the Philly Cheesesteak, Hot Wing Sub, Cheeseburger, Chicken Tenders and Hot Dog.
Customers can add on sides of rice in two sizes or fries, and then finish their meal with baklava.
Azizi shops at local grocery stores each morning to gather ingredients for the day’s dishes. The restaurant marinates its meats overnight and then slow-roasts it on a spit, shaving it off as it cooks.
“Everything is fresh,” Azizi said. “It’s not frozen or cold.”
He said he keeps his prices reasonable and serves the food fast. People from around the region have dined there, and the restaurant already has several regulars, including a family that told him they used to travel to New Jersey to get food like his. Now, they walk from their home in South Scranton.
“It gave me pride to give back something for the community,” Azizi said.
He made a few upgrades to the property when he took over, adding televisions and artwork his uncle made. Beyond the food, he and his family emphasize their heritage through music playing in the restaurant and art depicting their village back home.
The restaurant has booth seating for customers dining-in, and Azizi said it pulls in the downtown work crowd for weekday lunches and lots of families at dinner. It also offers takeout and delivers to Scranton and Dunmore with a $20 minimum order. The restaurant offers catering, too.
Azizi plans to make a few more upgrades inside the restaurant and hopes to expand to more locations one day. He has received positive feedback so far.
“The quality talks itself,” he said. “We try to keep it that way. (The food) is a bit different.”
His brother, Abdul Azizi, a nurse and former chef, described his brother as someone who embraces the community, from offering food to a homeless person who came by to a few moments of warmth inside the restaurant for people attending events downtown. Starting the business took a lot of courage and dedication, Abdul Azizi said, and his brother’s customers are there to support him.
“The guy’s got a heart of gold,” he said. “A lot of people won’t do that.”
Scranton is his home now, Hamid Azizi said, and a great place to raise his two young daughters, who’ll one day learn those family recipes.
“It’s our duty, our responsibility, to pass it on to the next generation,” he said.
Northeast Pennsylvania will be alive with “The Sound of Music” next week.
A new touring production of the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical comes to F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Wilkes-Barre, for shows Wednesday, Dec. 20, and Thursday, Dec. 21, at 7:30 p.m.
The story follows Maria as she takes a job as a governess to a large Austrian family while contemplating whether she wants to become a nun. She falls in love with the seven children and, eventually, their widowed father, Captain von Trapp, as the family struggles with Nazi Germany’s impending hold over Austria.
“What’s different with ‘Sound of Music’ on stage is that you kind of get more of the story,” said actress Keslie Ward, who plays the eldest von Trapp child, Liesl. “I feel like there is something about seeing live theater than watching the movies. Everyone loves Julie Andrews, but you get to know these characters more, and it’s relatable to all ages. Seeing it live is such a different experience.”
Many of Oscar Hammerstein II’s songs from the 1965 film version appear in the stage show, such as “My Favorite Things,” “The Lonely Goatherd,” “Do-Re-Mi” and, of course, “The Sound of Music.”
“I love my scenes with the actor who plays Rolf, Chad P. Campbell, and I also adore the numbers with all of the kids,” Ward said. “Particularly, ‘So Long, Farewell.’ It’s always so fun being on stage with all of the kids.”
Although many people have seen the film starring Andrews or a different iteration of the stage show, Ward encouraged people to attend this production because of the cast and company, calling it “an experience within itself.” She explained that she, and many of the other actors, found their own ways to interpret their roles in new and unique ways, while staying true to the characters at the same time.
“When you’re doing a piece so iconic, sometimes there can be a bit of pressure to exceed those expectations,” Ward said. “I think for me, as long as I read the script and stay true to the lines, the words and the lyrics, it works out. I try to incorporate myself into Liesl, to make it my own, and I feel like I can say that for Maria and Captain. They are not cookie cutter versions of the movies.”
Although Ward is a few years older than her character, the rest of the children in the show range in age from 6 to 12. For many of the kids, this production also is their first national tour. But the strong themes of family and music within the show reflect onto the cast during their travels, allowing them to feel comfortable with one another, much like a family would, Ward said.
“I think (the show) touches all generations,” she added. “It’s a fun thing to bond over. All generations, in a way, have grown up with the ‘Sound of Music.’ … I think the biggest theme is obviously music. Music definitely brings the von Trapps together. It helps the captain; it essentially helps the family escape from the concert (near the end of the show). … There are also themes of family and doing what’s right and then the political overtones, which are very relatable to what is happening nowadays. I think this musical has come at a good time. It’s a good escape from what is happening around us lately.”
The musical experienced waves of popularity over the years, beginning with the original Broadway production in 1959 and followed by the 1965 film, which won five Academy Awards. It surged in popularity again when NBC aired a liv eversion in 2013, the first live television production of a musical in more 50 years. More than 44 million people watched that telecast.
“I think the best part for me is traveling to all of these different cities,” Ward said. “We go to larger cities that are used to these grand productions and Broadway tours. But sometimes we go to theaters and this is the only (musical) they’ll get in the year, and they enjoy it so much. … Watching ‘The Sound of Music’ is kind of like a rite of passage.”
If you go
What: “The Sound of Music”
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
When: Wednesday, Dec. 20, and Thursday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Details: Tickets range from $45 to $65, plus fees, and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 570-826-1100 or online at kirbycenter.org.
Simply The Best
It’s time to announce Electric City’s Best of 2017 Readers’ Poll winners.
Each year, we highlight the fantastic people, places and things we love in Northeast Pennsylvania. Voters registered online at www.the570.com, created a user profile and filled out their online ballot. Each category started completely blank, and users entered the names of nominees in each category. Once a name was entered, it became part of the ballot. Voters then cast their ballots for favorites within nine categories: Love and Romance, Eats and Drinks, Goods and Services, Arts and Entertainment, Nightlife, Media, Health and Recreation, and Superstars. We also wanted our readers to let us know their WTF Moment of 2017. Online voting kicked off early in the morning on Nov. 9, and the votes kept coming in until noon on Nov. 22.
And now the results are in.
Congratulations to all the winners and a sincere thank you to all of the readers who took the time to cast their votes.
We hope to see you at our annual Best of Bash, taking place Wednesday Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. at The Backyard Ale House, 523 Linden St., Scranton. It’s always a legendary party with a room packed full of winners celebrating the best of the best our area has to offer.
Keep on reading Electric City every week as we continue to provide you with exclusive features, photo galleries, columns, a broad calendar of local events and much, much more.
— Tom Graham, managing editor
Love & Romance
Best Flower Shop
Best Limo Service
Feel Good Limo
Best Place for a Bachelor Party
Mohegan Sun Pocono
Best Place for a Bachelorette Party
Maiolatesi Wine Cellars
Best Place for a First Date
Maiolatesi Wine Cellars
Best Place to Buy an Engagement Ring
Steve Pronko Jewelers
Best Place to Buy Lingerie
Best Wedding Gowns
The Darling Dress
Best Wedding Registry
Live With It By Lora Hobbs
Best Wedding Venue
Scranton Cultural Center
Arts & Entertainment
Best All Ages Venue
Scranton Cultural Center
Best Art Venue
Mohegan Sun Pocono
Best Concert Venue
Electric City Winner: The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
Diamond City Winner: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
Best Dance Company
Dave Ragnacci School of Dance
Best Local Band Name
Best Local Festival
La Festa Italiana
Best Movie Theater
Iron Horse Movie Bistro
Best New Event
Underground Microphone at the Scranton Cultural Center
Best New Local CD
“DoYOU” — Black Tie Stereo
Best Ongoing Cultural Event
First Friday Scranton
Best Open Mic
Best Original Band
Best Party Cover Band
Black Tie Stereo
Best Place to Shoot Pool
Best Theater Production
“The Diary Of Anne Frank,” Dramatized by: Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
Eats & Drinks
POSH @ The Scranton Club
Lynn Sandy’s Bakery
Best Beer Menu
Backyard Ale House
Best Boneless Wings
Nina’s Wing Bites & Pizza
Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel
Steve and Irene’s Hoagies
Best Chinese Restaurant
New China Star
Gertrude Hawk and Dunmore Candy Kitchen TIE
Best Coffee Shop
Northern Light Espresso Bar and Cafe
Best Cup of Coffee
Abe’s Kosher Delicatessen
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
Best Food Truck
Peculiar Culinary Company
Best French Fries
Best Frozen Yogurt
Manning Farm Dairy
3 Jacks Burger Bar
Cara Mia’s Delicatessen
Best Hot Dogs
Coney Island Lunch
Best Ice Cream
Manning Farm Dairy
Best Italian Food
Best Italian Ice
Rita’s Italian Ice
Best Japanese Restaurant
Best Liquid Lunch
State Street Grill
Best Long Lunch
Best Lunch on a Budget
The Loading Dock Bar & Grill
Best Lunch on the Go
Best Mexican/Southwestern Restaurant
Best New Restaurant
3 Jacks Burger Bar
Best Patio Dining
Thirst T’s Bar & Grill
Best Place to Eat Organic
Best Potato Pancakes
Jones’ Potato Pancakes
Cooper’s Seafood House
Best Romantic Restaurant
Best Round Pizza
The Loading Dock Bar & Grill
Carmella’s Italian Deli & Pastries
Cooper’s Seafood House
Market Street Bar & Grill
Cooper’s Seafood House
Best Square Pizza
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Kay’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria
Best Thai Restaurant
Thai Thai Scranton
Best Vegetarian Menu
eden-a vegan cafe
Best Wine Menu
AV Restaurant & Lounge
Electric City Winner: Haggerty’s Tavern
Diamond City Winner: Town Tavern
Goods & Services
Best Animal Hospital Veterinarian
Dr. Paws Inc.
Serge’s Barber Shop
Best Bicycle Shop
The Daisy Collective
Best Car Dealership
Toyota of Scranton
Best Car Wash
Wizard Car Wash
Best Cigar Shop
Big House Tobacco
Best Comic Book Store
Electric City Winner: Comics on the Green
Diamond City Winner: Rubber Mallet Comics
Best Dry Cleaner
Mercury One-Hour Cleaners
Best Farmers Market
Co-Op Farmers Market
Best Garden Store
Corky’s Garden Path
Best Hair Salon
Sanderson Place Salon & Spa Scranton
Best Health Food Store
Best Jewelry Store
Best Local Brewery
Electric City Winner: Iron Hart Brewing Co
Diamond City Winner: Susquehanna Brewing Company
Best Men’s Clothing Store
Best Grocery Store
Catalano Importing Co.
Best Pet Supply Store
Stately Pet Supply
Best Pipe Shop
Headdies Pipe & Vape Shop
Best Place to Buy Beer
Electric City Winner: Backyard Ale House
Diamond City Winner: Sabatini’s Bottleshop & Bar
Best Place to Buy Music
Joe Nardone’s Gallery of Sound
Best Shoe Store
Scranton Running Company
Best Ski Shop
The Ski Corner
Best Store for Music Equipment
Best Tanning Salon
Best Tattoo Parlor
Electric City Tattoo
Best Unique Gift Shop
Electric City Winner: On & On
Diamond City Winner: The Strange and Unusual
Best Vintage Clothing Store
On & On
Nimble Hill Vineyard & Winery
Best Women’s Clothing Store
Best Bar in a Restaurant
Ale Mary’s at the Bittenbender
Best Bar You Can Smoke In
Best Bike Night
Thirst T’s Bar & Grill
AV Restaurant & Lounge
Best College Bar
Best Corner Bar
Best Drink Specials
Best Gay/Lesbian Friendly Bar
Best Happy Hour
3 Jack’s Burger Bar
Best Happy Hour Food
Market Street Bar & Grill
Poor Richard’s Pub
Best Looking Bar Crowd
AV Restaurant & Lounge
Best New Bar/Club
Crotti’s on Ash
Best Place to Shake It
Panked! Dance Party
Best Pub Trivia
Electric City Winner: The Bog
Diamond City Winner: Bart and Urby’s
Best Sports Bar
Happy Valley Sports Bar
Best St. Patrick’s Day Parade Bar
Best Strip Club
Best Venue to Hear Live Music
Best Young Professionals Bar
Best College Radio Station
Marywood VMFM 91.7
Best Local Website
Best Morning Radio Show
Prospector in the Morning
Best Radio Station
Health & Recreation
Best Bowling Alley
Electric City Winner: South Side Bowl
Diamond City Winner: Chako’s Family Bowling Center
Best Gym/Health Club
Melt Hot Yoga
Best Place to Picnic
Nay Aug Park
Best Place to Go Camping
Lackawanna State Park
Montage Mountain Resorts
Best Trip Just an Hour Away
Knobels Amusement Resort
Rhythm Fitness LLC
Constantino’s Catering and Events
Dr. Andrew Brown
EJ the DJ
Dr. Mark Frattali
Best Local Actor
Best Local Actress
Best Local Author
Best Local Blogger
Best Local Comedian
Best Local Dancer
Best Local Filmmaker
Best Local Radio Personality
Best Local TV News Personality
Best Local Visual Artist
Best Newspaper Reporter
Dr. Ira Krafchin
Best Pet Groomer
Fetching Grooming Salon & Pet Boutique : Meredith Miner-Reese
Best Solo Musician
Autumn Grace Osborne
Best Tattoo Artist
Electric City Winner: Vinny Worden
Diamond City Winner: Ryan Ashley Malarkey
Best Travel Agent
Best Wedding DJ
EJ the DJ
Best Wedding Photographer
Under the Willow Photography
Best Wedding Planner
Kelly Trapper/Alicia Carey at Constantino’s Catering & Events
Best Wedding Singer/Band
Picture Perfect Band
WTF Moments of 2017
The top WTF Moments in Electric City’s Best of 2017 Readers’ Poll cover a very wide range of heated topics.
On the local front, the top moment was when state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale not only spanked The Scranton School District for its reckless budgeting, health insurance missteps and many more flubs, but he also recommended the Scranton School District board and the staff to “start acting like responsible adults, and to be blunt, get their heads out of their asses and focus their energies on doing what is right for the district’s 10,000 students and thousands of taxpayers.”
Several gasps could be heard from the audience after DePasquale’s suggestion.
Other WTF moments that swept across the nation and hit home include the growing list of President Trump’s policies, tweets and sound bites; the controversy surrounding NFL players kneeling for the national anthem; and the recent tidal wave of sexual harassment claims finally seeing the light of day.
These are the topics that made Electric City readers think, “WTF?!?” in 2017.
BEST ONGOING CULTURAL EVENT // First Friday Scranton
BEST FOOD TRUCK // Peculiar Culinary Company From left, Justin Donaldson, sous chef, and Miranda and Gene Philbin, owners.
BEST SPORTS BAR // Happy Valley Sports Bar Front row, from left, owner Lindsey Mellow and Debbie Mellow, back row from left, Jason Mushow and Richard Mellow.
BEST PIPE SHOP // Headdies Pipe & Vape Shop Chick McAvoy, owner of Headdies Pipe & Vape Shop
BEST MOVIE THEATER // Iron Horse Movie Bistro
BEST CONCERT VENUE // F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
BEST LOCAL FESTIVAL // La Festa Italiana
BEST WEDDING REGISTRY // Live With It by Lora Hobbs
BEST PLACE FOR A BACHELORETTE PARTY and BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE // Maiolatessi Wine Cellars
BEST YOGA // Mission Yoga From left, Amy DuBois-Mandarano, manager and Kelly Bedford, owner.
BEST SKIING // Montage Mountain
BEST PLACE TO PICNIC // Nay Aug Park
BEST UNIQUE GIFT SHOP and BEST VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE // On & On Co-owner, Meegan Possemato
BEST CONCERT VENUE // The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
BEST LOCAL RADIO PERSONALITY and BEST MORNING RADIO SHOW // Prospector / Prospector in the Morning
BEST PLACE TO BUY MUSIC // Joe Nardone’s Gallery of Sound
BEST LOCAL COMEDIAN // Sam Falbo
BEST BARBER SHOP // Serge’s Barber Shop From left, some staff of Serge’s Barber Shop, back row, from left, Ashley Arcangeletti senior barber, Sarah Ramirez senior stylist, Lori Gogas manager, Leah Truncali senior barber and Pam Curmaci assistant manager. In front is owner, Ray Serge.
BEST ITALIAN FOOD // Sibio’s Restaurant
BEST CORNER BAR, BEST JUKEBOX, BEST LOOKING CROWD, BEST ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE BAR and BEST PLACE TO SHAKE IT // The Bog /Panked! Dance Party
BEST HAIR SALON // Sanderson Place Salon and Spa Owner Heidi Palazzari
BEST NEW BAR/CLUB // Crotti’s on Ash Co-owner Sheila Sankar
BEST CUP OF COFFEE // Zummo’s Cafe
BEST HAMBURGER, BEST NEW RESTAURANT and BEST HAPPY HOUR // 3 Jacks Burger Bar Owner and operator Jonathan Reckless
BEST WINE MENU, BEST COCKTAILS and BEST MARTINIS // AV Restaurant & Lounge Keith Thomas, the general manager and beverage director of AV Restaurant & Lounge, far right, stands with employees and staff.
BEST BAKERY // AmberDonia Bakery Owners Aida and Butch Sacipi.
BEST CIGAR SHOP // Big House Tobacco From left, Olivia Blake, bartender, Olivia Romano, Head Bartender and Sarah Rowlands, bartender.
BEST PARTY COVER BAND and BEST NEW LOCAL CD // Black Tie Stereo / DoYOU
BEST HOAGIE // Cara Mia’s Delicatessen
BEST CHEF // Gene Philbin
BEST NEWSPAPER REPORTER // Chris Kelly
BEST HOT DOG // Coney Island Lunch Co-owner Peter Ventura
BEST BARTENDER // Conor McGuigan
BEST SEAFOOD, BEST RESTAURANT and BEST SOUP // Cooper’s Seafood House
BEST BOUTIQUE // The Daisy Collective From left, Melissa Crociani, owner Maggie Zayac and Emily Mineo
BEST DJ and BEST WEDDING DJ // EJ the DJ
BEST MUSEUM // Everhart Museum
BEST HEALTH FOOD STORE // Everything Natural
1. A Musical Celebration of Christmas
Head to Clark Summit University, 538 Venard Road, South Abington Twp., for “A Musical Celebration of Christmas” this weekend in its historic Murphy Memorial Library.
Presented by the university’s Department of Music, the Christmas concert takes place Friday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 16, at 3 and 7 p.m. The school’s choirs, vocal soloists and instrumentalists will perform a wide variety of musical genres and styles under the direction of Adam Schwamb and Dr. David Harris. The audience also can sing along with Christmas carols.
Tickets cost $8 and are available in advance at clarkssummitu.edu.
2. Theater at North concerts
The Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton, presents a weekend of music with Twelve Twenty-Four on Friday, Dec. 15 and the Northern Appalachian Wind Symphony on Saturday, Dec. 16.
Established in 2002, Twelve Twenty-Four is a Christmas-themed rock orchestra, featuring a six-piece rock band, multi-piece string section and a variety of vocalists. The group presents a massive, high-energy performance of favorite holiday music and original holiday pieces.
Made up of 45 woodwind, brass and percussion players from across the country, the Appalachian Wind Symphony has planned an evening of Christmas and wintertime cheer, featuring appearances by guest singers, Santa and more.
Both performances begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for Twelve Twenty-Four and $16 for the symphony and are available online at thetheateratnorth.com.
3. Scranton Cultural Center events
Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., hosts a pair of Christmas events on Saturday, Dec. 16, with a free screening of the movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and the NEPA Holiday Show.
Starting at 11 a.m., the 2000 adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss story stars Jim Carrey as the Christmas-hating Grinch, who plots to ruin the holiday in the town of Whoville.
Starting at 6 p.m., the Menzingers, Tigers Jaw, Captain We’re Sinking, Three Man Cannon and the Hill You Die On will perform in the annual concert. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show. Doors open at 5 p.m. Visit the box office or scrantonculturalcenter.org or call 800-745-3000 to reserve tickets.
4. Running of the Santas
Go for a jolly jog with Santa Claus on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 1 p.m. in downtown Scranton.
Participants are encouraged to wear Santa costumes for the Running with the Santas 5K, which steps off at and returns to Ale Mary’s at the Bittenbender, 126 Franklin Ave. Registration runs from noon to 12:45 p.m., and a post-race celebration follows at the restaurant.
Registration is $30 the day of the race. Participants who registered in advance can pick up their packets Friday, Dec. 15, from noon to 7 p.m. at Scranton Running Co., 3 W. Olive St.
Proceeds benefit Catholic Social Services and St. Joseph’s Center. For more information, visit runsignup.com/santa.
5. ‘A Royal Affair Tea Party & Revue’
The Creative and Performing Arts Academy of NEPA, 222 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, will host a family-friendly tea party with live entertainment this weekend.
“A Royal Affair Tea Party & Revue” takes place Saturday, Dec. 16, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17, at 1 p.m. Guests are encouraged to dress up for the program, which includes a tea party catered by POSH at the Scranton Club, and can meet, dance and take pictures with princes and princesses.
Tickets are $22 in advance, available at showtix4u.com, and $25 at the door. For more information, call 570-252-4156 or email Dana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keller Williams often performs as a one-man jam band, looping multiple instrumental segments during live performances.
But when the songwriter plays F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts this weekend, he’ll sing a different tune.
“I’m very proud and so excited to say Danton Boller will be joining me in Wilkes-Barre,” Williams said. “We’ll be playing acoustic, and I am so excited to go so many different places in the acoustic realm. The upright bass is a whole different beast; it is really difficult to make that thing sing the way it needs to be sung. Danton Boller is a master at this instrument.”
The Friday, Dec. 8, concert starts at 9 p.m. as part of the Kirby Center’s “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” series. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 the day of the show, plus fees.
Williams began performing in the early 1990s as a solo artist in restaurants and bars. When he realized many people weren’t paying attention to the single guy in the corner of the room, the idea of looping various instruments struck him.
“I wanted something more organic, so I create the samples on the fly in front of the audience,” he explained. “That lead to more exposure and to playing solo around the country, which also lead to me being able to afford humans for projects. And I guess that’s where we are now — doing projects and solo work, with a little more focus on solo these days. I’ve done so many projects that the solo act gets left behind.”
While Wilkes-Barre will see the Keller Williams Duo this weekend, Williams’ other projects include KWahtro, Keller Williams Trio, More Than a Little, Grateful Grass, Keller & the Keels and Grateful Gospel, among others.
On top of creating music and touring with these projects, Williams has released over 20 albums, all with one-syllable titles. One of his most recent albums, “Raw,” is more representative of his upcoming show as an entirely solo, acoustic record.
“The ‘Raw’ album started in 2011 as a concept record of 12 songs on 12 different guitars,” Williams said. “I didn’t like it. I scrapped it. I found myself on a co-bill with Leo Kottke, one of my mentors and heroes, and it was going to be in nice theaters and performing arts centers. I didn’t have anything to represent that solo, acoustic music, so I pulled four of my favorite tracks off that, recorded six different ones and, voila — we have a record done in three days.”
As a musician, Williams views his entire career as a success without much to complain about.
“I wish I had known that I was going to do one-syllable titles to have the foresight to maybe make some really interesting run-on sentences with these words,” Williams joked. “But seriously, I followed my dreams, and I got really lucky. I don’t really have a lot of regrets.”
More than anything, Williams expressed how much his fans enabled him to follow each of his projects and goals without worrying about losing their interest. As a genre-hopping artist, Williams continues to change his style and create new projects while still keeping an ever-growing fan base. He is finishing his first instrumental album, which he filled with songs he played over the years that never had drum or bass lines, Williams said.
“To folks that are listening, they’ll be recognizable, but with a new twist,” he said. “I think they’ll dig it.”
If you go
What: The Keller Williams Duo
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
When: Friday, Dec. 8, 9 p.m.; doors open at 7:30
Details: Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 the day of the show, plus fees, and can be purchased at the Kirby Center box office, by calling 570-826-1100 or online at kirbycenter.org.
GRIZZLY BEAR — ‘Painted Ruins’
THE GOOD: Brooklyn indie rock outfit Grizzly Bear returns with its fifth album (and first in five years).
THE BAD: Just like the band’s previous sets, “Ruins” won’t grab hold immediately. You must give the record a few spins, pick it apart slowly and notice all its nuances gradually. It’s not “bad” — it just takes a little work.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Bassist Chris Taylor once again handles production duties as subtle changes occur on “Ruins” with the guys continuing their logical progression. The beats are more pronounced this time, the melodies bolder. Arrangements still bring together layers of cinematic sound with changes in tempo; that combination of gentler indie pop and prog-rock bombast stays intact.
Frontman Ed Droste guides the tunes (sometimes gentle, sometimes soaring) over backdrops that either seamlessly glide or boldly march forward. Keyboard flourishes add splashy bits of color at times combine with sharp guitars to bring about all-encompassing, multi-dimensional settings. Honestly, Grizzly Bear has never made an album this INVITING before. It’s gorgeous stuff.
BUY IT?: Sure.
THE DEARS — ‘Times Infinity Volume Two’
THE GOOD: Canadian indie rockers the Dears come back with their seventh album.
THE BAD: High concept? A SEQUEL? Not necessarily.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Recorded at the same time as its predecessor (“Volume One” came out in 2015), “TIV2” simply is another Dears collection on its surface. The husband-and-wife team of vocalist/guitarist Murray Lightburn and keyboardist/vocalist Natalia Yanchak leads its crew and churns out a smart mix of dark, lyrical imagery and delicate, haunting melodies. It’s damn near impossible to avoid comparisons to the Smiths. Echoes of groups such as Elbow and Stars also are not far behind.
Whether you recall “Volume One” or never even heard it is irrelevant. “Volume Two” is exquisite, stirring and soulful all on its own. From the guitar pop bliss slathered over “Of Fisticuffs” to the Baroque strains and delicate strings coloring “I’m Sorry That I Wished You Were Dead” to the cloudy gray enveloping the somber “End of Tour,” the new record is an emotional tour-de-force — as expected.
BUY IT?: Yep.
THE NATIONAL — ‘Sleep Well Beas’
THE GOOD: Ohio indie rockers the National return with a sprawling seventh album.
THE BAD: Nothing.
THE NITTY GRITTY: At its core, “Beast” is standard National fare. Frontman Matt Berninger wraps all the distinct melodies in his warm baritone. The moody, guitar-soaked backdrops remain steady, always drenched in shadows and fog.
Yet, this time, the guys allowed themselves the luxury of working within their own studio for some of the sessions and experimenting. Different sounds weave their way into the murky tapestry. The occasional drum loop or synth burst adds color. Some understated and intimate orchestral arrangements bring a much-appreciated warmth. Tempos and emotions run the gamut from frazzled and rollicking (“Turtleneck”) to tempered and introspective (“Dark Side of the Gym”).
Twelve tracks clock in at almost an hour, but the album never feels stagnant or bloated. The band keeps the proceedings unpredictable, and the writing as always is very assured. “Beast” ends up another gem in an already accomplished catalog.
BUY IT?: Definitely.
Branch out into the holidays with an exhibit that promises to be the bee’s knees.
The annual Festival of Trees exhibit kicks off this weekend with a Roaring ’20s theme, and people and groups from across the region decorated or created from scratch Christmas trees befitting of the Jazz Era.
This year’s exhibit runs from Friday, Dec. 8, through Friday, Jan. 12, in the former Abercrombie & Fitch store in the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton.
Exhibit admission is free except during the Dec. 8 opening reception, which runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and costs $20. Guests can nibble on hors d’oeuvres and listen to music from Gypsy Jazz Quintet. Proceeds from the show and reception benefit the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
“It’s great that organizations, big and small, can come together for such a good cause and celebrate the season,” said Alysia Scazafabo, volunteer chairwoman of the festival. “Everyone gets the chance to come to the (marketplace) and see their creativity, too. This is a great event.”
Headed by Lackawanna County’s Office of Arts and Culture and its event-planning committee, lots of local organizations, volunteers and more all get together to brainstorm ideas and pull off this annual event, Scazafabo said. She described the 1920s as an important era of both social and political change and said organizers encouraged festival participants to use jazz, flappers, dance halls and speakeasies, Prohibition, airplanes, automobiles, film and more as inspiration from the pioneering decade.
“The theme works out. Feedback has been great, and the trees so far has been pretty interesting,” Scazafabo said, adding that participants range from local schools to Leadership Lackawanna to women inmates of Lackawanna County Prison. “We crossed paths with some amazing people, and they’re very excited about the opportunity to show off their creativity.”
This year, guests can don their feathers, fringe, pinstripes and other pieces of ’20s fashion during the opening reception’s fancy dress contest. The winner will receive bragging rights as well as a $100 gift certificate for the Marketplace at Steamtown.
“It’s a fun excuse to get together and dress up,” Scazafabo said. “It will be exciting to see everyone dressed in that time period and embracing that style.”
Changing the theme each year adds a unique twist to keep an annual event like Festival of Trees fresh. Though, it’s participants’ imaginations that make the event a regional mainstay.
“The exhibit is about ‘Christmas trees,’ but some people are just so creative with how they interpret that along with the theme,” Scazafabo said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”
If you go
What: Annual Festival of Trees
When: Friday, Dec. 8, through Friday, Jan. 12; opening reception and 1920s dress contest, Dec. 8, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Where: Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
Details: Tickets for the opening reception are $20; admission for remaining dates is free. Proceeds benefit the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. A Toys for Tots drop-off box will be inside Electric City Trolley Museum, 300 Cliff St., Scranton, during its hours of operation.
Bikes rocket around the track with sharp, studded tires, reaching 60 mph in less than three seconds — on ice.
International Championship Events World Championship Ice Racing slides into Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp., on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m. The World Championship Ice Racing Series presents the “Next Generation Fire on Ice Tour,” which features two- and four-wheel races whose performers do stunts, such as popping wheelies at 170 mph or holding wheelies for 300 feet.
“Every time we do a stunt, I’m always trying to take it to the next level by making it more dangerous and more exhilarating for the crowd to watch,” explained racer and performer Ken “The Stuntman” Remer. “As far as racing, I always do what I can to get to the top. … It might sound weird, but I wear the same pair of socks throughout the whole season.”
A Wisconsin native, Remer grew up fantasizing about performing stunts. He trained with Midwest Stunts, based in Chicago, in his late teens and went on to become a full-time stuntman in various films and television shows, including “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “Chicago Fire.”
“I grew up on a water-ski team; I was barefoot and jumping,” Remer said. “I always had this fantasy of doing stunts on TV shows. … I am also a volunteer firefighter of 22 years, so I’ve never been afraid of fire, since I’ve been around it so much and had a lot of training.”
Remer started racing first on an outdoor four-wheeler but wanted more of a challenge by racing on ice.
“I looked up ‘international championship events’ in 2010 and instantly became involved,” Remer said. “After being involved for seven years, I ended up purchasing the series in 2016.”
Stunts and racing became such a large part of Remer’s life that he even proposed to his wife on the ice after performing a jump. Now, the promoter continues to work on increasing awareness and garnering interest in the sport while also honing his skills in racing and stunts. In recent years, Remer worked his “Stuntman” routine into the ice-racing show by jumping his quad through a flaming ring and also lighting himself on fire.
“Our main precautions are using the right gear; I wear the right gear to keep the heat off my body,” Remer said. “We also have at least four firefighters with extinguishers. If something were to go wrong, they could get to me fairly quickly. I put my trust into my guys that if something does go wrong, they’ll be right there to get the fire out.”
If you go
What: International Championship Events World Championship Ice Racing
When: Saturday, Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Details: Tickets cost $15 to $29 for general admission and $9 for kids 2 to 12 and can be purchased at the box office, ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.
Online: World Championship Ice Racing Series on Facebook or icespeedway.com.
A nascent theatrical troupe brings Ebenezer Scrooge, his ghostly companions and a timeless Christmas message back to the Scranton stage this weekend.
Clocktower Theater Company presents Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story, “A Christmas Carol,” from Friday, Dec. 8, through Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton. Tickets range from $15 to $25.
Founded in 2016, the professional theatrical troupe first presented the play, its inaugural production, in Scranton last December. Executive director Brad Morgan spent many years presenting “A Christmas Carol” with the professional Cider Mill Playhouse in Endicott, New York, each holiday season. When that group decided not to produce the show last year, Morgan brought it to Scranton, where he grew up and lives.
For him, “it just wouldn’t have seemed like Christmas without doing that show,” he said, and last year’s show was “very well receive by everyone who saw it.”
“It’s a holiday tradition up there (in Endicott), where that’s what I’m trying to establish down (in Scranton),” Morgan said. “But that’s going to take some time for people to become aware of our facility … (and) to build up a subscription base and some dedicated theatergoers.”
“A Christmas Carol” stars a mix of actors from the Scranton and Endicott areas, with Actors’ Equity Association actor Bernard Burak Sheredy reprising his role of Scrooge from last year. A Binghamton, New York, native, Sheredy is the son of Joe Sheredy and Mary Burak, who owned a neighborhood butcher shop and grocery in Throop. He graduated from Yale School of Drama and has appeared in the movies “Meet the Parents” and “Quiz Show” as well as TV shows “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”
Nearly 800 local students will attend a matinee performance of “A Christmas Carol” on Dec. 8, Morgan said, noting how “every school reading list” includes Dickens’ story. He called the account of Scrooge’s transformation from miser to generous man “a classic tale.”
“Just the story, the Dickens story itself, even if you’re going to read it, it’s just so inspiring and just encapsulates (to) me the joy of the holiday season,” Morgan said.
In addition to performing the show at the Theater at North, Clocktower will present “A Christmas Carol” at Cider Mill Stage, Endicott, the former home of the Cider Mill Playhouse on the following two weekends, Dec. 15 to 17 and 21 to 23.
Morgan and his group look to expand on last year’s success by offering a full season of shows in 2018. While Scranton has several community theater companies, he said, it lacks much professional theater beyond Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania. He aims to change that with Clocktower, which pays its actors and staff.
“You’re going to notice a difference in quality,” Morgan said. “People would not see any difference in going to see our show and going to see an off-Broadway production in New York.”
The season will include “Taking Steps” in February, “Girls Night: The Musical” in March, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in June, “Rose’s Dilemma” in September, “Lucky Stiff” in November and “A Christmas Carol” again next December.
IF YOU GO
What: “A Christmas Carol,” presented by Clocktower Theater Company
When: Friday, Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 9, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 10, 3 p.m.
Where: The Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton
Details: Tickets are $15 to $25 and are available at the box office, 570-703-0846 and clocktowertheater.thundertix.com.
1. Live Nativity of the Abingtons
More than two decades of tradition continue with the return of the annual Live Nativity of the Abingtons. The reenactment of the birth of Jesus takes place Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9, at 6 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 10, at 6 p.m. at Clarks Green Assembly of God Church, 204 South Abington Road. The outdoor performance takes less than 30 minutes and features live music and animals, dancing and special effects. The audience then can head indoors for entertainment by pianist Denise Warner, snacks, drinks and the Abingtons Christmas Giveaway, for which local businesses donated many gifts. Registration for the giveaway is free.
Parking is available at the church, on surrounding streets and the lot of the former CVS Pharmacy, Hall Avenue and South Abington Boulevard. For more information, call 570-586-8286 or visit livenativityoftheabingtons.com.
2. ‘School of Rock’
The stage version of a movie about a wannabe rock star who starts a band with his students comes to Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., this weekend.
Presented by SCC’s youth theater program, “School of Rock: The Musical” takes place Friday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 9, at 2 and 7 p.m.
The musical focuses on substitute teacher Dewey Finn, who discovers his students at a prestigious prep school have musical gifts and ropes them into forming a rock group to compete in a Battle of the Bands. The show’s staff includes director Camille Reinecke, music director Jillian Rojek and choreographer Jackilyn Yamialkowski.
Tickets cost $5 and are available at the box office, 570-344-1111 and scrantonculturalcenter.org.
3. ‘Of Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All!’
Keystone College presents a free holiday concert, “Of Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All!,” on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Theatre in Brooks on the La Plume campus.
Several of the college’s music ensembles — including the Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble, Chorale at Keystone and the Voices at Keystone College — will perform. The event also will feature a visit with Santa Claus, holiday treats and presents for children. Audience members are encouraged to donate a new, unwrapped toy; pet products; money; canned goods and other non-perishable foods to be distributed to Toys for Tots, Griffin Pond Animal Shelter and Giants’ Food Pantry at Keystone College.
In the event of inclement weather, the concert will take place Sunday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. For details, call 570-945-8599 or email email@example.com.
4. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’
Catch a classic holiday film on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock. Free screenings of “It’s a Wonderful Life” take place at 2, 7 and 8 p.m. and include free popcorn and soda. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Directed by Frank Capra, the 1946 movie traces the life of George Bailey (James Stewart), who discovers on Christmas Eve what the world and the lives of his friends and family would have been like had he never been born.
Call 570-996-1500 or visit dietrichtheater.com for more information.
5. Hawley Winterfest
The Lake Region celebrates the season from Friday, Dec. 8 to Sunday, Dec. 10, with events around Hawley and Lake Wallenpaupack. The annual Hawley Winterfest includes dozens of activities, including train rides, visits with Santa, a Christmas show at Ritz Company Playhouse, a beer tour, holiday card-making and open houses. Visitors also can enjoy live music, specials at local restaurants and businesses and more family-friendly activities.
This year’s festival includes a tour of four privately owned Delaware and Hudson Canal lock houses decorated for the holidays on Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour begins at the Lock House 31 museum. Tickets are $20 and available at Looking Glass Art Gallery in Hawley Silk Mill, the Settlers Inn, Teeters’ Furniture and Wayne County Historical Society.
Visit hawleywinterfest.com for a full schedule of events and more details.
1. Living Christmas Village
Take a walk through Grace Bible Church’s Living Christmas Village on Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Guests can check out the live nativity scene, games, kids’ games and crafts, and puppets and snack on some hot cocoa and cookies. The Dunmore High School Jazz Band and Choir, Penn State Worthington Scranton Jazz Band and Choir, Serenity Harpists and City Lights Church of Scranton will perform.
Admission is free. Visit gracebiblepa.com or the event’s Facebook page for more information.
2. Christmas in a Small Town
Santa Claus makes his annual trek through the Lackawanna Valley on Saturday, Dec. 2.
Christmas in a Small Town kicks off at the Carbondale Train Station, River Street, at 10:30 a.m. as Santa boards a special train provided by Steamtown National Historical Site. He’ll then arrive at Archbald Train Station, Pike Street, at 11:35; Jessup Train Station, Church Street, at 12:20 p.m.; Queen City Train Station, Lackawanna Avenue, Olyphant, at 1; Dickson City Train Station, Boulevard Avenue, at 1:45; and Steamtown, Scranton, at 3.
Children can get their picture taken and share their Christmas wishes with Santa at the stations. Valley View’s marching band will perform at the Archbald and Jessup stops.
Visit lhva.org or call 570-963-6730, ext. 8200, for more information.
3. Snow Forge
Come to downtown Old Forge on Sunday, Dec. 3 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., for the annual Snow Forge festivities. This year’s events include trolley rides with Mrs. Claus, horse-drawn carriage rides, a craft fair, Festival of Trees, pictures with Santa, a visit with Rudolph and the other reindeer, and the lighting of the Christmas tree on the lawn of the borough building. Main Street will shut down to public traffic during the event.
The Jingle Bell Jog, a 1.2-mile run that focuses on fun instead of speed, precedes the main event, stepping off at 11 a.m., and costs $20 in advance and $25 that day. Awards will be given to the top finishers and best costumed runner; all runners will receive a gift.
Visit the event’s Facebook page for more information.
4. Marriotts on Montage Mountain 2017 Winter Marketplace
Get ready for Christmas with the help of a special shopping event on Saturday, Dec. 2.
The Marriotts on Montage Mountain 2017 Winter Marketplace will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the hotels — SpringHill Suites, TownePlace Suites and Courtyard by Marriott — 19 Radcliffe Drive, Moosic. Items for sale include soap, jewelry, essential oils, clothing, food, wine and more. Shoppers will get 2000 Marriott Rewards points for spending $10 or more with vendors.
Visit the event’s Facebook page for more information and a complete list of vendors.
5. Christmas with Jennifer Nettles
Country music star Jennifer Nettles brings her Christmas tour to Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, Nov. 30, for a 7:30 p.m. show at F.M Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square.
One of today’s most popular and admired country singers, Nettles has won multiple awards for her music, including Grammy, Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards for her hit song “Stay.” The lead singer of country duo Sugarland before her solo career, Nettles performed on Broadway in the musical “Chicago” in 2015 and released the album “To Celebrate Christmas” last year.
Tickets start at $39.50 and are available at the box office.
ScrantonMade heads back to its outdoor roots with its fifth annual Holiday Market.
While most of the action — including pictures with Santa, shopping with about 200 vendors, live music and dining — remains inside the city’s former Globe Store, 123 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, the group will set up a skating rink for the first time outside the building. The 100 block of Wyoming Avenue will shut down to accommodate the 100-foot-by-40-foot synthetic ice surface during the market, which runs Friday, Dec. 1, from 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 2, 11 to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 3, 11 to 4 p.m.
“Last year, people were so excited about (having the market in) the Globe, and it was such a big thing,” said Chrissy Manuel, ScrantonMade partner, editor and creative director. “And we were like, ‘How do we top that?’”
Organizers are still determining a ticket price for skating. Participants can borrow skates there, and a parent or guardian will need to sign a waiver for children and teens to participate.
“It gives a big-city feel as if you’re in New York City,” said Cristin Powers, ScrantonMade founder and events and marketing director. “It’s festive as well.”
ScrantonMade started its holiday market in 2013 in a tent on Courthouse Square. After second year there, it moved to the Marketplace at Steamtown for a year and then to the old Globe Store space in 2016 thanks to support from the Lackawanna County government, which owns the property and will move some of its offices there after renovations.
Returning to the site of the beloved department store, which closed in 1994, brought back a lot of memories for visitors and led to a lot of story sharing, organizers said.
“People loved it,” Powers said.
Guests can enter the free market from both the Wyoming and Penn avenue entrances to check out vendors selling items ranging from fiber products and fine art to jewelry and artisanal food. This year, some vendors — such as Tig & Cooneys, which will sell whiskey glasses with maps of Scranton and Clarks Summit etched on the sides (visit mapabouttown.com to order) — will allow customers to order items in advance and then pick them up at the market. Decorated lightbulbs from the Electric City sign already sold out during the pre-order period, organizers said.
Items like those that have a local focus, which also include ornaments and pen-and-ink drawings, have become more popular of late. People might move out of the area, but they still have a familial or emotional connection to it, Powers pointed out.
“Scranton pride is at an all-time high, where artists are making Scranton-themed art,” she said.
Organizers also have seen more crafts geared toward men in recent years than there was when the market started, Manuel said, and people are using the market to do their holiday shopping.
“I feel like we reach a wider audience. … We’re getting the people who would be at Macy’s on the weekend shopping,” she said.
But the event has grown to encompass much more than local artisans and crafters. Visitors can bring their own cameras to take photos with Santa, check out an art exhibit from Employment Opportunity Training Center and a miniature train layout, and hear live music. They can grab food from five eateries that will set up in the former Charl-Mont restaurant space — Terra Preta, Backyard Ale House, Zuppa Del Giorno, Mendicino’s Italian Specialties and the Garden Mediterranean Cafe — while Electric City Roasting Co. will host a pop-up cafe in the Wyoming Avenue foyer.
On Saturday morning, the first 200 people in line will receive a tote bag filled with treats from vendors and other local spots. Items include sweets from local chocolatiers, airboarding tickets, free yoga passes and other samples, as participating vendors must contribute a product rather than filler, Manuel noted.
Last year, the line for the bags wrapped around the block as people came several hours before doors opened for a chance to take one home. Waiting for the bags has turned into a tradition akin to shopping on Black Friday, organizers said. Seeing hundreds of people lined up to get into the market makes all the work involved in putting it together — which includes partnerships with the county, city and more in the community — worth it, Powers said.
“It’s a surprise,” she said. “You’re getting a bag of goodies for yourself.”
IF YOU GO
What: Fifth annual ScrantonMade Holiday Market
When: Friday, Dec. 1, 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 2, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 3, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Former Globe Store, 123 Wyoming Ave., Scranton
Details: Admission is free. The first 200 people on Saturday receive a free goodie bag. For more information, visit scrantonmade.com or the event’s Facebook page.
CALVIN HARRIS — ‘Funk Wav Bounces Volume 1’
THE GOOD: Scottish DJ/producer Calvin Harris gets funky on his fifth.
THE BAD: Where do I begin?
THE NITTY GRITTY: I apologize if personal taste creeps into a review that’s supposed to be completely objective, but Calvin … WTF? I used to love your records — EDM/techno hybrids with cheeky lyrics and goofy, squiggly keyboard riffs. You brought a sense of fun to the underground.
A couple of albums ago, though, guest vocalists started dominating the tracks. But at least they were people like Dizzee Rascal, Florence Welch and Haim. And that infectious “bounce” was always present. Irresistible stuff.
“Funk Wav” now finds the likes of John Legend, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj joining the party, dragging the music way too far into the mainstream. Predictable R&B also compromises the straight-up electronic vibe. So we get an album just as BORING as a “Now That’s What I Call Music” compilation. No spark. No adventure.
BUY IT?: No. Now let’s never speak of this again.
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM — ‘American Dream’
THE GOOD: James Murphy and company come out of semi-retirement for their fourth album.
THE BAD: “Dream” could seem difficult. In spots, it’s definitely LCD’s most “down” record. HOWEVER, stick around and let it spin. This extremely hypnotic concoction WILL grow on you.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Murphy still delivers the beat-driven goods, a steadily streaming combination of post-punk, house and funk. He’s not afraid to let a track slowly build and completely devour your consciousness. You don’t dance to a song like “How Do You Sleep.” You let its dark mood, bold beats, wraparound basslines, thumping synths and echo-drenched vocals carry you away to places both beautiful and dangerous.
And those trips happen again and again throughout “Dream.” It could be the silly flippancy of the house-rocking “Emotional Haircut” or the dead-serious, slow-burning Bowie requiem “Black Screen.” Doesn’t matter. Murphy wants the journey to not only last but also remain compelling until the final thump sputters into oblivion. He succeeds.
BUY IT?: YES!
CULTS — ‘Offering’
THE GOOD: New York indie pop duo Cults (vocalist Madeline Follin and “everything else” guy Brian Oblivion) comes back after four years with its third.
THE BAD: “Offering” isn’t as distinct as its predecessors. At first, much of the record slips into the background.
THE NITTY GRITTY: One has to give “Offering” a fair shake though; repeat spins bring out many of the songs’ subtle charms. Things such as the psychedelic, whirring organ underneath “With My Eyes Closed” or the carnival vibes coloring the swaying “Natural State” have to sink in gradually.
Strip away the atmospherics, though, and “Offering” becomes a case of style over substance on more than a few occasions. That’s the biggest drawback. What may be a dreamy collection capable of lifting you above the clouds isn’t necessarily a great collection of SONGS. Despite its occasional shortcomings, though, Cults remains a duo with something to offer. Here’s hoping the pair reignites the original spark on a more fleshed-out effort next time.
BUY IT?: Your choice.