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Holiday events put the Merry in Christmas

Clarke MacDonald, who portrays Ralphie, rehearses for “A Christmas Story,” on stage through Dec. 22 at Flat Rock Playhouse. Clarke MacDonald, who portrays Ralphie, rehearses for “A Christmas Story,” on stage through Dec. 22 at Flat Rock Playhouse.

The holidays are upon us and there is always lots to do. But take some time to enjoy the season, too. Here are some of this week's activities that will help make your days merry and bright:

 

Playhouse presents 'A Christmas Story'
Flat Rock Playhouse presents A Christmas Story, the classic holiday film live on stage, through Dec. 22 at the Flat Rock Playhouse Mainstage. A Christmas Story is written by Philip Grecian and based on the motion picture A Christmas Story and on the book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark.
The only thing little Ralphie Parker hopes to find under the Christmas tree is an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB rifle with a compass in the stock. He doesn't simply want it – he's consumed with an aching desire for it. But before he can hope to receive his Christmas wish, Ralphie must deal with concerned mothers, unsympathetic teachers, bundled-up brothers, major "fra-gee-lay" awards, frozen flagpoles, Bumpus hounds, unsavory soap, a terrifying department store Santa and the even more terrifying Scut Farkus.
The show is directed by Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Lisa K. Bryant. Bryant recently directed Cats at the Flat Rock Playhouse Downtown and The Three Musketeers on the Mainstage.
Ralphie is played by Clarke MacDonald, who was last seen playing Gavroche in the Flat Rock Playhouse blockbuster summer production of Les Miserables.
Cast members are Leslie Collins, Erin Mosher, Scott Treadway, Gordon McConnell, Clarke MacDonald, Andrew Starr, Rohan Myers, Isabella Rundell, Marie Danos, Trey Shirlin, Ben Bryner, Gracie Mayer, Nathan Rhodes and Evan Simpson.
Performances will be at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; matinees at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. All tickets are $35 and can be purchased by calling the Playhouse box office at 828-693-0731, toll-free at 866-732-8008 or online at www.flatrockplayhouse.org. Discounts available for seniors, AAA members, military personnel, students and groups. Playhouse Mainstage is located at 2661 Greenville Highway in Flat Rock.

Heritage Museum hosts a Christmas gathering
The Henderson County Heritage Museum will host "Ye Old Christmas Gathering at the People's House" from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at the Historic Courthouse. Come visit with the downtown merchants who will be open late for your shopping convenience, then drop in at the Historic Courthouse, where children can hear Carol Everhart read "The Night Before Christmas" and show them how to make a very special Christmas craft.
Following the craft time, Hillard Staton will read "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer." All the while, Larry Rhodes will play Christmas carols, and guests are invited to sing along.
Refreshments will be served and the Museum Gift Shop will be open, offering very special items for Christmas giving.
Reservations are not required and there is no admission charge.
For more information updates, check the museum website frequently, HendersonCountyMuseum.com, or call 828-694-1619.

BRCC music students to present recital
Blue Ridge Community College music students will present a recital at 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, in the Patton Building Auditorium. The performers are James Cochran, tenor; Vashti Baluch, piano; Steven Scroggs, piano; Benjamin Carter; guitar; Caleb Christiansen, guitar; and Preston Parker, trombone. Howard Bakken and Kevin Ayesh are the piano accompanists. The program will feature works by a variety of composers.
The public is cordially invited; there is no admission charge. For more information, contact Dr. Kevin Ayesh by phone at 828-694-1860, or by email at kevina@blueridge.edu.

Town of Fletcher hosts holiday events
FLETCHER — The Fletcher Parks and Recreation Department will hold its annual Christmas Tree Lighting at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at Fletcher Community Park. The Veritas Christian Academy children's choir and the Fletcher Community Chorus will perform traditional Christmas songs. Santa Claus will arrive at 6:30 p.m. to visit with children and hot chocolate and cookies will be available for tasting.
This event is sponsored by the Fletcher Area Business Association and Charlie's Angels Animal Rescue agency.
The 25th annual Town of Fletcher Christmas Parade will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 14. Santa Claus will make a final stop at Town Hall from 11 a.m. to noon to visit with children on parade day.
US Highway 25 will be closed from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the Christmas parade route.
For more information, contact Nicole Sweat, recreation program supervisor at 828-687-0751.

Christmas at Connemara is a holiday tradition
FLAT ROCK — Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site will host holiday musicians and storytellers every Saturday this holiday season. This festive celebration will honor Carl Sandburg and highlights the Sandburg family tradition of singing holiday music. The program features award-winning musicians, storytellers and performers, who will share regional holiday traditions. Enjoy guided tours of the Sandburg home (small fee for tours), decorated in the simple style of the Sandburgs with poinsettias and a traditionally decorated Christmas tree. Young visitors will find many opportunities for participation in storytelling and sing-a-longs and an activity station to make Christmas crafts. Cookies and cider will be served.
Music and storytelling is offered at 11 a.m. each Saturday. Before and after the performance visitors can make-and-take a vintage holiday craft from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Events are as follows:
• Dec. 7 — Carroll Ownbey will perform holiday music on a grand harp.
• Dec. 14 — The Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers return for a spirited performance. This group of more than 20 singers is comprised of Mars Hill College choir alumni and music faculty. They have performed at many venues including the Piccolo Spoleto festival in Charleston and the Biltmore house in Asheville. The New Mountain Strings will also play mountain dulcimers from noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 14 in the bookstore.
• Dec. 21 — Pat Corn will sing and play holiday music on the guitar. Corn has appeared with many top artists including Doc Watson and David Holt.
• Dec. 28 — Jim Fox and Gayle Asburn play holiday favorites on autoharp and hammered dulcimer.
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, is located three miles south of Hendersonville off U.S. 225 on Little River Road. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Days. For more information, telephone 828-693-4178, or visit www.nps.gov/carl.

'Celebrate the Season' Dec. 7 at BRCC
To celebrate the spirit of the holiday season, Blue Ridge Community College will present the annual "Celebrate the Season Concert" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in the Thomas Auditorium in the Sink Building on the Henderson County Campus. Everyone is invited to join the festive celebration. Admission is free.
The evening of holiday music will begin with pianist Kevin Ayesh, head of the music department at Blue Ridge Community College since 1992, who will perform a selection of classical piano works appropriate for the holiday season. Ayesh, an award-winning pianist, received his bachelor of music degree at University of Texas at Austin and his master's and doctorate degrees at the University of Maryland where he was a student of Nelita True.
The evening's entertainment will continue with Pastyme, an a cappella octet, specializing in the music of the High Renaissance; Arpeggio Strings, a classical trio made up of violin, viola and cello, as well as soloists from the Asheville Lyric Opera.
George Henry will serve as master of ceremonies. The evening will end with a reception in the gallery featuring a variety of holiday treats.
For more information, contact Martha Howell at 828-694-1743 or email marthah@blueridge.edu.

Santa climbs down Chimney Rock
Jolly old St. Nick will be visiting Chimney Rock to climb down one of the world's largest natural chimneys from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14. For more than 20 years, Santa Claus has practiced at Chimney Rock State Park for his big evening when he climbs down millions of chimneys worldwide delivering Christmas presents to little boys and girls.
Each weekend, one lucky guest will win free two-hour rock climbing lessons for two with Santa's professional helpers, Fox Mountain Guides. The winner of each drawing will be announced at 1:30 p.m. and you must be present to win. Chimney Rock was named one of "10 great places to catch up with Santa" and one of the 10 Best High Places in the World by USA Today. For park hours, rates and in case of inclement weather, visit chimneyrockpark.com.
Fearless St. Nick will descend from the top of Chimney Rock on a nearly 200-foot rappel about every 30-45 minutes, weather permitting. Kids are invited to sit on Santa's lap for photo opportunities, meet Mrs. Claus, and enjoy holiday cookies, hot cocoa and kids' activities. Weather permitting, visitors can also meet Grady the Groundhog or other live woodland critters that wouldn't survive at the North Pole.
New this year are performances by the Lake Lure Classical Academy's fifth grade chorus, a group of 40 children, and their rock 'n' roll band. On Dec. 14 only, the choir will perform at noon, followed by the rock 'n' roll band comprised of high school and middle school students at 1 p.m.
After Santa's big climb on the Chimney December 7, join him for an old-fashioned Christmas in Chimney Rock Village from 5-7 p.m. Bring the kids for photo opportunities with Santa on Main Street, caroling and a bake sale, leading up to a tree lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. at the Gathering Place. Shops in the Village will stay open late for holiday shopping, and the Old Rock Café will be open for dinner until 7 p.m.
Other community holiday events open to the public include the Annual Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge Holiday FunRaiser Gala from 6:30-10 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the historic 1927 Lake Lure Inn, followed by the Annual Chili Cook-off and Bingo from 5-9 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the Chimney Rock Volunteer Fire Dept.
For more information, call 800-277-9611 or go to chimneyrockpark.com to plan your visit. To learn more about Fox Mountain Guides or book a rock climbing lesson, visit foxmountainguides.com or call 888-284-8433.

Visitor Center hosts Holiday Open House 
Share holiday cheer and the warmth of the season at the Hendersonville Visitor Center Holiday Open House from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. In the spirit of the season, please stop and enjoy holiday treats with the Center's staff and volunteers. The Visitor Center is located at 201 South Main Street in Historic Downtown.
For information or more holidays events, call 828-693-9708 or 800-828-4244 or visit the web site at www.historichendersonville.org.

Holiday sale set at Bullington Gardens
Celebrate the holiday season by visiting the Bullington Gardens' ninth annual Open House and Holiday Sale. The sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7. An open house will coincide with the sale from 1 to 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6.
The sale will feature premium, native freshly-cut Fraser fir trees, wreaths and garland from the Western North Carolina mountains. These items should be pre-ordered as a limited number will be available at the sale.
The annual event will also include the sale of premium amaryllis, Following the sale, amaryllis, swags and wreaths will be available for sale at Bullington until Friday, Dec. 20, or as supplies last.
Bullington Gardens, a Horticultural Education Center, is located at 95 Upper Red Oak Trail in Hendersonville. From Highway 64, turn north onto Howard Gap Road. Proceed one mile, and turn right on Zeb Corn Road. Go 2/3 of a mile and turn right on Upper Red Oak Trail.
For more information, call Bullington Gardens at 828-698-6104 or visit the website at www.bullingtongardens.org.

Blue Ridge Orchestra to perform Dec. 7-8
The Blue Ridge Orchestra will present "Musical Tidings For The Holidays" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in Ferguson Auditorium on the campus of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, 340 Victoria Road, Asheville, and at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Folk Art Center, Milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville.
The program will include Strauss' "Die Fledermaus Overture," "Emperor Waltz" and "Blue Danube";
 Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia on Christmas Carols"; "Rejoice" from Handel's "Messiah" with Heather Ferguson, soloist; and Britten's "Ceremony of Carols."
Tickets are $15 general admission; $5 for students, and $10 for Friends of the Orchestra. Tickets are available at Musician's Workshop, 319 Merrimon Ave., Asheville; Soli Classica, 1550 Hendersonville Road, Asheville; or online at blueridgeorchestra.org.

Southern Lights sets 'Christmas Ball Dance'
Southern Lights Square and Round Dance Club will hold its "Christmas Ball Dance" on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Whitmire Activity Building, Lily Pond Road, Hendersonville.
"Toys for Tots" will be collected. Dinner and a semi-annual club meeting will be held at 5 p.m. There will be no advance dance at 6 p.m.
Early rounds will begin at 7 p.m., squares and rounds at 7:30 p.m. Caller will be Stan Russell. Cuers will be Lou and Al Krech. There will be no dance on Dec. 21.
For information, call 828-625-9969 or 828-693-3825.

Community Band will perform a 'Wintry Mix'
Put a jingle in your season listening – and sing along to — "A Wintry Mix" at 3 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Blue Ridge Community College Conference Hall. The 80-member Hendersonville Community Band will perform under the direction of Winford Franklin. The Fletcher Community Chorus, a choral ensemble of 25 singers from Henderson and Buncombe counties, will be featured. They sing under the direction of Christine Georger, a music teacher at Hillandale Elementary School in Hendersonville.
The chorus will sing several holiday songs including "Everywhere Christmas Tonight," "A Carol In Winter," " Nutcracker Jingles" and "The Christmas Song." Anita Freeman is the piano accompanist. Roberto Flores, baritone, will be the solo vocalist for "A White Christmas." Those who attended the HCB's Fall Colors concert will remember Flores' rendition of "If Ever I Would Leave You" from "Camelot."
Flores has performed musical theatre, oratorio and opera throughout the Southeast and Europe. He has been a soloist with the Asheville Symphony, performs regularly with the Asheville Lyric Opera, and is a member of PASTYME, an a capella ensemble. Flores has studied opera in Sicily and Germany.
A little klezmer music will also be part of the "wintry mix." Joel Helfand will peform "Sholem-alekham, rov Feidman," a tribute to Giora Feidman by Bela Kovacs. Helfand is a longtime member of the HCB clarinet section who plays professionally with the Flat Rock Playhouse Orchestra. Since moving to Hendersonville in 2005 he has performed with Hendersonville and Brevard Community Bands, Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra, Asheville Jazz Orchestra, Uptown Jazz Quintet and Woodsong Winds Clarinet Choir.
Other instrumental pieces in the concert include "Symphonic Prelude on Adeste Fidelis" by Claude Smith, "A Christmas Celebration" by Kenny Bierschenk, "Holiday Piece" by David Foster, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" arranged by Larry Kerchner with a little 'Latin groove', and "Christmas Recollections" by John Edmondson, a medley of well-known Christmas songs such as "Frosty the Snowman," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Here Comes Santa Claus," "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." "Morning Has Broken" arranged by Tom Wallace and "Prelude Siciliano and Rondo" by Malcolm Arnold represent another segment of the 'wintry mix.' Arnold was a 20th century English composer and his "Prelude Siciliano and Rondo" is a light-hearted and harmonious contemporary work in the style of Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughn Williams.
The audience will get a chance to sing some of their holiday favorites in the Christmas Pops Sing-A-Long piece led by the Fletcher Community Chorus and accompanied by the Hendersonville Community Band.
Admission is $10 for adults. Students are admitted free. Tickets are available at The Laurel Park Wine Market, the Hendersonville Visitor Information Center or from any band member. For information, call 715-797-2260.

HSYO to present Winter Concert
The Hendersonville Symphony Youth Orchestras will present a Winter Concert at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, in the Bo Thomas Auditorium on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock. The concert is open to the general public. Tickets are $7 for adults and free for youth 18 and under, available at the door.
The performance features all three HSYO ensembles — Youth Symphony, Sinfonietta, and Prelude Ensemble — in music by Beethoven, Holst, Dvorak, and others. The concert will include the premiere of "Highland Fanfare" for brass and percussion by Hendersonville composer and trumpeter Peter Voisin.
More information is available at the HSYO website (hendersonvillesymphony.org/hsyo) or by contacting the HSYO manager at 828-393-5222.

Livingston directs 'Christmas Carol'
Ensemble Theatre Company in conjunction with North Carolina Stage Company will present "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol!" Dec. 11-29 at NC Stage in downtown Asheville.
Under the direction of Hendersonville native Andrew Hampton Livingston and starring Michael MacCauley, the one-man tour-de-force performance is not to be missed.
"Scrooge? I have to redeem old Scrooge? The one man I knew who was worse than I was? Impossible!" So begins the journey of Jacob Marley's heroic behind-the-scenes efforts to save old Scrooge's soul—and in the process, save his own.
Donation bins for Manna Food Bank and Children First will be in the lobby. Dec. 28 is a special holiday benefit day with a portion of ticket sales from the 2 p.m. matinee being donated to benefit Manna and a portion of ticket sales from the 7:30 p.m. performance going to Children First.

'Manger Mouse' creators to sign books
A meek and lowly stable mouse plays an integral part in the Christmas story in Sarah Martin Byrd's new children's book, The Manger Mouse.
Author Sarah Martin Byrd and illustrator Debbie Wall, both Elkin natives, will be at Mast General Store in Hendersonville from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.
The children's story follows Matty the Mouse as he helps prepare the manger for Jesus' arrival. Working to exhaustion, the tiny mouse takes on the important job of carrying bits of straw to the feeding trough that will soon hold the King of Kings. But as Matty discovers, God's plan for him doesn't stop there.
Matty is the only animal in the stable suitable for the task of helping to keep Jesus warm. None of the other animals, including Doris the Donkey, Molly the Cow or Randy the Rabbit, were small enough to slip through the crack at the bottom of the trough. God made Matty the perfect size for this task, showing that God can use anyone who is willing to serve.
"I hope The Manger Mouse is welcomed into many homes this holiday season," Byrd said. "It's a unique perspective of the greatest story of all time—Christ's birth."

Renaissance Christmas concert set at Covenant
Musicke Antiqua, a Renaissance Consort, will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 2101 Kanuga Road. Christmas music old and new will be performed on a variety of instruments, including recorders, harp, gemshorn, hurdy-gurdy, cornamuse and others.
The public is invited to attend. This is a free concert with refreshments.
For information, call the church at 692-8651.