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Saying goodbye to 2018 and gearing up for 2019

Katherine Scoggins • Jan 4, 2019 at 4:30 PM

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! It has certainly been an eventful one. The local churches have held nativity pageants, gifts have been exchanged, the city has glistened beneath the beautiful lights, Church Circle has its Christmas tree, Baby Jesus is back in his manger, and there are reminders of angels everywhere!

Local churches have opened their doors to celebrate Christmas with pageantry and good will. We've enjoyed delicious hot food, beautiful decorations, carols sung and scripture read as the story of Luke reminds us all of the simple baby in a lowly stable. Celebrating is about so much more than gift exchanges and bright lights.

The people around our trees also make the season bright. Children are home for the holidays, adults are making their stops to visit friends they may seldom see, and families are taking a brief respite from their busy schedules to just be together.

Can you hear it? The laughter, the impatience, the sheer excitement and anticipation. The beginning of a new year. The feel and smell of brand new books, flutes and whistles, bubbles and farie gardens, puppies and kittens, so many wonderful treats in the palm of your hands.

Look outside your door and watch as children signal the early morning, bright with wagons and sleds, and dolls and toy soldiers. Adults frolic and play like children, enjoying the crisp winter air. Perhaps they make a resolution - or two - and promise to keep it this time.

It's a time of rough and tumble acrobatics and of quiet contemplation. It's the Christmas season and New Year's Eve is just a day away. However you choose to celebrate - be it with a quiet evening at home or a rousing good time out and about - please be safe. Thank you so much for allowing us to visit in your home this year. Happy 2019!!

Thank you for bringing Christmas magic to life

If you follow the special events listings this time of year, you have undoubtably seen information for numerous performances of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker.” There are performances in almost every town from Southwest Virginia to Kingsport to Bristol to Blountville.

Rehearsals for these productions are held for weeks, and costumes, sets and props have been reworked, painted, sewn and embellished for maybe the third or fourth time in as many years. Every time there is a move to a new theater, or new dancers are cast, many adjustments have to be made. The “magic” onstage does not just happen, there are many, many hours of work that goes into making the production a favorite of children and adults alike over the years.

For that reason, we want to say a very special thanks to all those cast members, production crews, volunteers and instructors who brought this Christmas classic to life on local stages this year. Kudos to each of you for a job well done ~ and for being a part of something that makes Christmas magical for so many here in our community.

If you have not seen a recent performance of “The Nutcracker,” imagine seeing a decorated Christmas tree grow to an impressive height onstage, or a snowstorm take place in the auditorium. Various productions feature whimsical, humorous or original changes to give the performance a dash of the unexpected or charm.

Take for instance, the inclusion of dogs on stage in the recent performances of Bristol Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” The company's idea was to incorporate dogs to help encourage people to adopt from a local shelter. The early performance was billed as “Pupcracker” with dogs actually on stage for the performance.

“We’re partnering with the Sullivan County Animal Shelter,” Michele Plescia explained, prior to the event. “They will have dogs up for adoption at the Paramount. Also, Mother Maybell Carter, the late matriarch of the country music pioneering Carter Family of Southwest Virginia, figured prominently in one scene. As Mother Ginger, in act two, the Carter sisters run out from Mother Ginger’s very full skirt with banjos and fiddles. The show offered up several other surprises for audiences this year.

Dancer Erin Ginn is a favorite of Bristol Ballet audiences. She has performed in Bristol Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” for seven years. This year, she danced once again with Jace Coronado fresh from his stint in “Aladdin” on Broadway.

Katherine Scoggins is a Sunday Stories columnist who highlights local happenings and community organizations twice a month in Out & About with Katherine. To share photos from a community event, add an event to our calendar or invite Katherine to attend, email communitynews@timesnews.net.

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