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Nutcrackers to Usher in Holidays

Steubenville — Nutcrackers — a staple of every Christmas holiday season — will be a fun addition to this year’s 2016 Perkins Restaurant & Bakery Fantasy in Lights Parade on Friday.

Thanks to a collaboration between Historic Fort Steubenville and Nelson’s of Steubenville, a large sleigh will be filled with various nutcrackers as part of the Wheeling parade.

The parade entry will serve as a promotion for the beautiful and larger-then-life Steubenville Nutcracker Village and Advent Market presented by Trinity Health System.

This unique attraction features more than 100 life-sized nutcrackers, each one representing a well-known character, mascot or profession.

These colorful figures are arrayed beneath the twinkling arches of Fort Steuben Park allowing people to take photos as they recognize familiar personalities or literary heroes such as Dr. Who, St. Francis, Scrooge, Pinocchio, the Italian Gondolier, Patrolman Holiday, the Phantom of the Opera and Steubenville’s own Dean Martin. Designed and fabricated in the city by Nelson’s of Steubenville, the nutcrackers will be on display day and night from Nov. 22 through Jan.8.

Judy Bratton, executive director of Historic Fort Steuben, said this year the Nutcracker Village has tripled in size over last year’s event that drew thousands of visitors.

Nutcrackers also will be among the holiday themed decor that will fill the Exhibit Hall in the Fort Steuben Visitor Center where the Christmas Wonderland welcomes young and old. Amidst a variety of Christmas trees, there will be retro toys, music, and novelties to evoke memories of Christmas Past, including a magnificent dollhouse and miniature railroad.

Youngsters can write letters to Santa and take photos with Magic, the Holiday Horse. Collectible nutcrackers, books, puzzles and gift items are on sale in the Fort Steuben Gift Shop, open daily in the Visitor Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Weekends will bring additional activities for family fun and memory-making. Beginning the Friday following Thanksgiving, artisans will offer specialty crafts and baked goods in Holiday Chalets as part of the Advent Market. Shoppers can browse and purchase homemade fudge, doll clothes, woodcrafts, local honey, wooden toys, grapevine wreaths, herbal products as well as locally produced Nutcracker souvenirs.

Food booths will offer traditional European treats such as bratwurst, potato dishes and desserts. Entertainment by area performers, church and school choirs and popular bands will fill the air with holiday music. Steubenville’s historic churches will shine through magnificent stained glass windows as visitors take evening hayrides through the city streets. For a small fee, guests can board the Holly Trolley to take a memorable ride to holiday sites. The Market will be open from 4pm-9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 1pm-6pm on Sundays.

The annual Sights and Sounds of Christmas Parade on Dec. 10th will feature the theme “Nutcracker Magic.” There are expected to be over 80 units including bands, dance troupes and floats that will travel down Fourth Street and reflect the holiday spirit. The nearby Advent Market will be open from noon- 9 p.m. that day.

New this year is an original musical production based on the Steubenville Nutcracker Village and using the familiar melodies of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. The Wooden Heart Follies will be performed at the Masonic Hall, 227 N. 4th Street, on four Sunday afternoons (Nov. 27, Dec. 4, Dec. 11 & Dec. 18); tickets are $7 for adults, $4 for students and free for children under 6.

They can be obtained in advance at the Visitor Center or on-line at http://woodenheartfollies. brownpapertickets.com or at the door.

The stars of the event, of course, will be the delightful Nutcrackers themselves.

Nelson’s of Steubenville founder and manager Mark Nelson explained the process. “We began as woodcrafters and our team of craftsmen simply adapted the tools and equipment to produce a light weight product made from a dense foam. My daughter Therese is the artist who designs and oversees the painting of the Nutcrackers. We produced 37 last year, but had such an enthusiastic response that we have added 75 more, each with an individual personality and sponsor. Our crew is as excited about it as the community!”

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