What To Do: Patriot’s Day in Chadds Ford

And….Santa comes to Kennett, rides helicopters and trains to kick off holiday season

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times


The annual “Patriot’s Day” celebration will be held Saturdayat the Brandywine Battlefield in Chads Ford.

On November 29, it will be time to celebrate “Patriot’s Day” which is not to be confused with “Patriot Day” or “Patriots’ Day” or a day to wear Tom Brady jerseys and root for the New England football team.

“Patriot Day” is celebrated in September to remember those lost on 9.11 while “Patriots’ Day” is celebrated in New England in April to commemorate the battles of Lexington and Concord. And, New England Patriots’ fans celebrate all season long.

“Patriot’s Day” is a special celebration that will be held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on November 29 at the Brandywine Battlefield (Route 1, Chadds Ford, 610-459-3342, http://brandywinebattlefield.org)

Visitors to the park are invited to step back in time to a small outpost in the area in the winter of 1777. The event will feature Colonial soldiers and period interpreters and there will be a presentation by General George Washington (portrayed by biographer Carl Closs) at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m.

Activities include musket firing demonstrations, exterior tours of the historic Gilpin House, a blacksmith, house tours and demonstrations of 18th-century medical “experts.” There will also be a discussion about the Chester County Militia and the “Brandywine Flag.”

The park is free to walk around and use. Tickets for the house tour, museum and film are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, AAA and AARP and $5 for children (ages 6-17). Tickets for just the museum and film are $3 for all ages.

kiss peter criss

Peter Criss of KISS is among the stars attending this weekend’s “Not Just’ Rock Record Show” in Oaks.

The list of endangered species now includes record stores which are vanishing at an alarming rate. Locating a record store is almost as difficult as finding a pay phone anywhere — let alone a pay phone that still works.

If you’re a music fan that is looking for hard-to-find collectibles such as out-of-print CDs, rare 45s, vintage music posters or albums that have been deleted from record company catalogs years ago, there is an answer other than e-Bay.

That answer is the annual “Not Just’ Rock Record Show” which is being held in conjunction with the “All Things That Rock Philadelphia Festival 2014.” The event will take place on November 28 and 29 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (Station Avenue, Oaks, 484-754-3976, http://allthingsthatrockfestival.com).

Vendors from all over the states and Canada will be set up at the show with a huge array of records, CDs, 45s, DVDs, posters, books, magazines, t-shirts, videos and other music-related memorabilia.

There will also be a number of autograph guests including KISS drummer Peter Criss, former Monkee Micky Dolenz, former Live lead singer Ed Kowalczyk, David Uosikkinen from the Hooters, Vinnie Martell of Vanilla Fudge, Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle, former Moody Blues and Wings singer Denny Laine, Jade Starling from Pretty Poison,  Billy J. Kramer and Blanco Diablo.

While there will be many personalities from the world of rock appearing as autograph guests, there will be just three that will be performing — the Philadelphia-based band Octane, the Van Halen tribute band Romeo Delight and Dolenz.

“At the convention, I’ll be meeting fans,” said Dolenz, during a phone interview Wednesday morning. “And, I’ll use it as an opportunity to make money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. My brother-in-law Buddy Blanchard sings and plays guitar for Romeo Delight. So, I agreed I’d do some of my tunes with them.”

Tickets for the special holiday weekend event are $10 for either day of $18 for a two-day pass. Show hours are from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. each day.

Holiday-Light-Parade-Poster-EditThe holiday season will officially arrive in Kennett Square on November 28 when Downtown Kennett Square hosts the town’s annual Holiday Light Parade and Open House (Downtown Kennett Square, 610-444-8188, www.historickennettsquare.com). The parade is scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m.

Santa Claus and his wife will serve as grand marshals for the parade which will be followed by the lighting of the town Christmas tree. There will be holiday music on the streets and many of the borough’s shops will stay open late and offer refreshments.

Small Business Saturday is the day Kennett Square celebrates the Shop Small movement to drive shoppers to local merchants across the United States. Visitors on November 29 are invited to enjoy Kennett Square’s downtown area featuring locally owned small businesses.

The event also features live performances of seasonal tunes by Sin City Lite and the Brandywine Singers.

Horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered on December 7, 14 and 21 from noon to 3 p.m. The rides begin on State Street at the Genesis walkway and tickets are $5. On December 6, the Kennett Symphony of Chester County will perform “Pop Goes the Holiday” at 7:30 p.m. at Kennett High School.

Santa Claus doesn’t always travel by sleigh. He also makes visits using a variety of transportation modes such as helicopters, horse-drawn carriages, fire trucks, open-air convertibles and trains.

There is something special about riding on a train that is being pulled by a steam locomotive. Almost everyone enjoys the experience — even Santa Claus. This year, Santa will be visiting a number of the areas tourist railroads to take special rides with his friends.

santa west chester rrOne of the best train rides with Santa Claus is the one presented by the West Chester Railroad (Market Street Station, West Chester, 610-430-2233 or www.westchesterrr.net).

The special “Santa’s Express” trains (which feature heated cars decorated for the holidays) will run on November 28, 29 and 30 and on December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. There will be additional departures at 5 p.m. on December 13, 14, 20 and 21.

The 90-minute journey on the trail line’s heated decorated train travels through the Chester Creek Valley. Santa Claus will be greeting everyone at Market Street Station and then going along for the ride to Glen Mills. Once at Glen Mills, passengers can disembark, explore the historic station and take advantage of photo opportunities on Santa’s lap inside the station. Live music will be provided by Greg Wright.

Adult fare for the West Chester Railroad trips is $22. Tickets for children (ages 2-12) are $16 while toddlers (ages 9-23 months) get to ride for $6.

The Wilmington & Western Railroad (2201 Newport Gap Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-998-193, www.wwrr.com) will run its “Santa Claus Express” on Saturdays and Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Tickets are $18 for adults, $17 for senior citizens and $16 for children (ages 2-12).

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be riding along with passengers on the steam-powered 90-minute round trip to Ashland Station. He will be greeting everyone on board and offering chocolate treats to the youngsters. Santa will also be posing for pictures with his fans.

The tourist rail line will also be running special “Holiday Night Express Trains”, featuring a peaceful evening ride in the railroad’s 1929 Doodlebug rail car. Tickets for these trains, which run from December 12-30, are $12 for adults, $11 for senior citizens and $10 for children.

The Strasburg Rail Road (Route 741, Strasburg, 717-687-7522, www.strasburgrailroad.com) is running its “Santa’s Paradise Express” from November 28 until December 20. Santa will be the featured guest on each ride from Strasburg to Paradise and back.

He will be greeting passengers, shaking hands, posing for photos and giving a treat to each child. After the train ride, children are treated to storybook readings of holiday classics. Visitors of all ages can also enjoy a ride aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car.

Tickets for rides on the Strasburg Railroad are $17 for adults, $11 for children (ages 3-11) and $3 for toddlers (under age 3).

The New Hope & Ivyland Railroad (32 Bridge Street, New Hope, 215-862-2332, www.newhoperailroad.com) is operating its “North Pole Express” now through December 23. Tickets are $45.95 for adults, $43.95 for children (ages 2-11) and $12.95 for toddlers.

Passengers can ride the rails with Santa, Mrs. Claus and a group of holiday revelers. Children and adults of all ages can sip hot cocoa and enjoy cookies while Santa visits with each child and presents them with a special gift. Local musicians will be on board to play and sing Christmas carols. Additionally, children are encouraged to come dressed in the pajamas.

Christmas trains also come in a smaller variety. Model railroad displays and the Christmas holiday season have been linked together since a time before even your parents were even kids.

One of the most elaborate model train layouts in the Delaware Valley can be found at the Morris Arboretum (100 Northwestern Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 215-247-5777, www.business-services.upenn.edu/arboretum/index.html). The popular Garden Railway Display that has become a summer fixture at The Gardens at Morris Arboretum returns again for a special holiday display.

The display, which is open to the public now through January 4 in the winter garden of the Morris Arboretum, has a quarter-mile of track featuring seven loops and tunnels with 15 different rail lines and two cable cars, nine bridges (including a trestle bridge you can walk under) and bustling model trains.

The buildings and the display are all made of natural materials — bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones — to form a perfectly proportioned miniature landscape complete with miniature rivers. Philadelphia-area landmarks are all meticulously decorated for the holidays with lights that twinkle.

Admission to the Morris Arboretum is $16 for adults, $14 for seniors (65 and older) and $8 for students and military.

Santa Claus will also make an arrival by air on December 13 when he visits the American Helicopter Museum (1220 American Blvd., West Chester, 610-436-9600, www.helicoptermuseum.org). Children will be able to stand outside and watch when Santa arrives in a helicopter — at 11 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person.

Inside the museum, youngsters can get their visit with Santa and tell him what items are on the holiday wish list. Children will also be able to enjoy Christmas activities and refreshments. As an added attraction for the entire family, helicopter rides will also be available throughout the day — weather permitting. Tickets for the ride are $40 per person.

“A Brandywine Christmas”, which runs from November 28-January 4 at the Brandywine River Museum (Route 1, Chadds Ford 610-388-2700, www.brandywinemuseum.org), is an annual event that is fun for the entire family.

The museum’s ever-popular “critter” ornaments will be used to decorate holiday trees, wreaths and diorama settings throughout the museum. The intricately designed ornaments are made from all-natural materials by museum volunteers and have found homes on trees at the White House and the Smithsonian Institution.

“A Brandywine Christmas” also features an extensive O-gauge model. Five moving trains operate at all times and include a 60-car freight train winding past a village, stone quarry, oil refinery, mountains, Herr Foods plant, running waterfall and animated skating scene.

Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors (65 and older) and $6 for children.

The Mount Hope Mansion (Route 72, Cornwall, 717-665-7021, www.parenfaire.com) doesn’t celebrate the holiday season in a conventional way with manger scenes, festive light displays or visits from Santa.

Instead, Mount Hope features an annual holiday celebration honoring one of the most respected authors in the English language – Charles Dickens. The event, which is set in the mid-1800s, is called “Dickens of a Christmas.”

It features a fun-filled, turn-of-the-century Christmas celebration. Various rooms in the mansion have been temporarily converted into mini-theaters which will host performances of some of the most popular holiday tales, including Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

Tickets for adults are $16.95 on weekdays and $18.95 on weekends. Children’s tickets are $9.95 for all shows. Visitors to “A Dickens of a Christmas” in the Victorian Mount Hope Mansion will also be able to participate in sampling the vintages from the Mount Hope Wine cellars.

There are plenty of reasons to take the short drive to Delaware this holiday season with tax-free shopping on everything at the top of the list.

Another major reason is the annual staging of “Holidays at Hagley” — an event that is always one of the most eagerly anticipated holiday attractions in this area every year.

The popular Brandywine Valley exhibit, which is included with regular admission, opens today and continues through January 6 at Hagley Museum and Library (Route 141, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-658-2400, www.hagley.org).

The 2014 edition of “Holidays at Hagley” features tours of Eleutherian Mills, which is the first du Pont family home built in America. The tours, which will be presented each day from 10a.m.-4:30 p.m., feature decorations in a combination of styles from both the 19th and 20th centuries.

The 1803 du Pont family ancestral home, Eleutherian Mills, will feature holiday decorations and interpretation on the French traditions of exchanging gifts on New Year’s Day and the celebration of Twelfth Night.

Dried flowers, greenery, fruits, and other natural materials create a beautiful holiday ambiance accentuated by soft lights and Christmas music. This year’s exhibit is inspired by the winter pastimes and pursuits of the property’s former residents.

Admission is $14 for adults and $5 for children (ages 6-14).

One of the most popular holiday events in the Brandywine Valley is “A Longwood Gardens Christmas.”

The festive holiday display at Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org), which runs now through January 11, features spectacular lights, lavish decorations, holiday music and colorful displays featuring thousands of brilliant poinsettias, brightly decorated trees and fragrant flowers — all inside the heated Conservatory.

A special attraction at the 2014 “A Longwood Christmas” is the botanical tourist site’s bird-inspired display. The colorful annual event also has a lot of outdoor attractions such as fountain shows and nighttime light displays. Longwood’s Christmas celebration also includes a wide array of seasonal music — holiday concerts, organ sing-alongs and carillon performances.

When the sun goes down at Longwood, a night-blooming garden of more than a half-million lights strung on close to 100 trees with approximately 40 miles of wire comes to life. A carillon with 62 cast bells plays holiday music every half hour during daylight hours. Longwood’s Open Air Theatre fountains dance to holiday music each half hour — temperature permitting.

As always, admission by “Timed Ticket” — tickets issued for specific dates and times. Timed ticketing limits the number of people in the Gardens at any given time and allows guests to enjoy minimal lines and a better viewing experience. There are different prices for “Peak” and “Off Peak” times.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $20 (non-peak), $27 (peak) for adults), $17/$24 for seniors (ages 62 and older) and $10/$13; students (ages 5-18)

Another top-rated holiday event is the annual “Yuletide at Winterthur.”

This year’s 36th annual staging of the event, which runs now through January 4 at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware,800-448-3883, www.winterthur.org), highlights the winter celebrations of H. F. du Pont and his family at Winterthur in the first half of the 20th century. It also ties in with Winterthur’s “Costumes of Downton Abbey” exhibition.

Special family activities include “Downton Afternoon Tea Buffet” (November 30, December 7 and 28 and January 4), “Family Workshops” (December 7 and 14), “Brunch with Santa” (December 13, 14, 20 and 21) and the “Yuletide Touch-It Room” (Monday–Friday, 2:30-4:30 p.m.; weekends, 12:30-4:30 p.m.).

Timed Yuletide Tour reservations are required. Admission to Yuletide at Winterthur is $25 for adults, $23 for seniors and students and $5 for children.

Nemours Mansion & Gardens (Route 141 South, Alapocas Drive, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-651-6912, www.nemoursmansion.org) is celebrating the Christmas season now through December 31with special three-hour holiday-themed tours.

During the holiday period, the guided tours will include several stories of the house and part of the gardens. Many of the rooms featured in the tour will be decorated as they would have been when DuPont resided there in the early 1900s while some will retain their traditional period decorations. Tickets for the tour at Nemours are $15.

Pennypacker Mills (3 Haldeman Road, Perkiomenville, 610- 287-9349, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) is hosting “Victorian Holiday Tours” now through January 4 while “Twelfth Night Tours at Pottsgrove Manor” (100 West King Street, Pottstown, 610-326-4014, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) are running now through January 11.

On November 29 at 1 p.m., Lower Perkiomen Valley Park (101 New Mill Road Oaks, 610-666-5371, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) will present “Holiday Crafts.” Event participants will be able to engage in some family-friendly craft making using natural, found objects such as evergreen clippings, twigs and pine cones to build a wreath.

“Holiday Wreaths” is the featured program at Norristown Farm Park on November 30 at 1 p.m. Participants will be able to make a holiday wreath with natural materials such as grapevine, pine cones, nuts and flower pods.

Many of the local amusement parks are fun places to visit in November and December because of their special holiday attractions.

From now until December 31, “A Very Furry Christmas” will be presented by Sesame Place (100 Sesame Place, Langhorne, 215-752-7070, www.sesameplace.com). The event is a one-of-a-kind family-friendly celebration with everyone’s favorite furry friends — Grover, Oscar and the rest of the gang from Sesame Street. Admission is $24.

“Christmas Candylane,” which is the annual holiday event at Hersheypark (100 West Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, 800-HERSHEY, www.hersheypark.com), is running now through December 31. Tickets are $12 per person.

Visitors to Hershey can also experience the winter wonderland called “Hershey Sweet Lights, A Holiday Drive-Thru Spectacular.” The attraction, which has an admission fee of $24.15 on Fridays and Saturdays and $19.15 the rest of the week, is a two-mile drive through wooded trails featuring approximately 600 illuminated, animated displays.

Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park (2249 Route 30 East, Lancaster, 866-386-2389, www.dutchwonderland.com) is hosting its “Dutch Winter Wonderland” from November 22 until December 30 on Saturdays, Sundays and select weekdays (November 28, December 26, 29 and 30). Tickets are $12.99.

When the Christmas season arrives in Europe, it is common to see Christmas villages erected in downtown locations of big cities. These villages are temporary sites that feature live music, a variety of holiday attractions and a large number of specialized vendors.

Philadelphia is keeping pace with the European cities with a Christmas village of its own — a special site that springs to life on November 27 and continues until December 28.

“Christmas Village in Philadelphia” (Broad and Market streets, Philadelphia, 215-391-3017, www.philachristmas.com) is set up each holiday season in Love Park, which is located on the west side of City Hall. The free outdoor holiday market event, which is  is modeled after the traditional Christmas Markets in Germany, is running now through December 28.

Vendors selling traditional European food, sweets and drinks are set up in 60 wooden booths and timber houses that form a medieval village. They will also offer a unique shopping experience with international holiday gifts, ornaments, jewelry and high-quality arts and crafts.

Bethlehem, which is known as the “Christmas City,” presents Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem (PNC Plaza at SteelStacks, 645 East First Street, Bethlehem, 610-332-1300, http://www.christmascity.org) every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday now through December 21.

Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem showcases aisles of exquisite handmade works by the nation’s finest artisans. The market also features live performances of Christmas music and vendors with an amazing variety of tasty food items.

Koziar’s Christmas Village (782 Christmas Village Road, Bernville, 610-488-1110, www.koziarschristmasvillage.com), which is now in its 67th annual season, will be open every night through January 1 — including Christmas Eve, Christmas Night, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Night.

The village is a visual wonderland with a large amount of holiday displays and special attractions such as a huge model train display, a toy shop, a country kitchen, indoor and outdoor Christmas displays. Admission to Christmas Village is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors (65 and older) and $7 for children (ages 4-10).

The Historic Odessa Foundation’s 2014 Christmas Holiday Tour will be presented now through January 4 in Odessa’s historic district (Main Street, Odessa, Delaware, 302-378-4119, www.historicodessa.org).

This year, the Historic Houses of Odessa’s Corbit-Sharp House (c. 1774) will be the focal point for the literature-inspired Christmas Holiday Tours. The exhibit is inspired by the classic fairy tale “Snow White.”

The Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.nctstage.org) is presenting the holiday classic show “A Christmas Carol” now through December 23. Tickets, which include a tasty buffet dinner, are $59 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

“A Christmas Carol,” a novella by Dickens that was first published in 1843, tells the tale of an old miser name Scrooge who gets transformed from a curmudgeon to a likable old soul after visits from his deceased partner Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future.

The American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 800-0 648-4102, www.AMTshows.com) has its holiday show running now through December 30. The show features spectacular vocal harmonies, lively musical arrangements, impressive dancing, elaborate scenery, elegant costumes and the music of the AMT Orchestra. Tickets are $42.

The Rainbow Dinner Theatre (3065 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise, 800-292-4301, www.RainbowDinnerTheatre.com) is presenting its holiday production “Burglar’s Holiday” now through December 28. Ticket prices range from $48-$54.

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