Friday, December 9, 2011

Getting into the Christmas spirit this weekend in Niagara

I am a little tired tonight following a very long day, but I have some thoughts I want to share before putting my head down to rest in advance of a very busy weekend in Niagara for this reporter.

I don't know about you, but I have had a heck of a time getting into the Christmas spirit this year.  Maybe it is the weather; maybe it is all the news the last few weeks that works against getting all warm and fuzzy as usual at this time of year.  I don't know...but I do know this journalistic Grinch had his hard heart softened up more than just a little today as I was heavily involved again this year with the annual Great Holiday Food Drive put on by Astral Radio stations at 12 Yates Street in St. Catharines.  My full-time job is, of course, morning show producer on Newstalk 610/CKTB, who along with 97.7 HTZ-FM and 105.7 EZ Rock, joined forces on the front lawn to fill a couple of St. Catharines Transit buses with food and toys for Community Care of St. Catharines & Thorold.  It was, to put it simply, an amazing day.

When things wrapped up at 6 pm and the last bus pulled away with Santa himself at the wheel, under police escort of course, residents of St. Catharines-Niagara had come through with an astounding total of $ 238,000 in food and cash to help out those less fortunate in the community at a difficult time of year for many.  What can you say after a display of human caring of that magnitude?  Yes, it warmed my heart for sure, as it did many others.  But more than that, it helped make Christmas a more bearable time for many in the community who really need our help.  On behalf of all of us involved today, thanks to everyone who took part and helped out a very worthwhile cause again this year.

Now, if you feel like doing a little holiday celebrating this weekend, the Niagara Symphony joins forces with Chorus Niagara for a triple-bill Christmas celebration at the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre at Brock Centre for the Arts.  The concert, titled Home for the Holidays, features Niagara's premier 100-voice ensemble teamed up with your Niagara Symphony, directed by Chorus Niagara Artistic Director Robert Cooper.  It promises to be a truly festive event, with one of the many highlights being a reading of the ever-popular Brother Heinrich's Christmas by former CBC As It Happens host, Barbara Budd.

What is especially interesting is the fact there are three, rather than the customary two performances of the Holiday Pops! concert this weekend:  Saturday afternoon at 2:30 and evening at 7:30, and Sunday afternoon at 2:30.  All three will be near sellouts I would imagine, but your best bet for tickets at this stage would likely be the Saturday evening performance.  For tickets, call the Brock box office at 905-688-5550, ext. 3257, or log on to  If you're going, it is suggested you bring a new, unwrapped toy or gift card to benefit Gillian's Place, formerly Women's Place in St. Catharines.

Needless to say, I will be in the lobby for all three performances before, after and at intermission, with lots of great musical ideas for gift giving for yourself or others on your Christmas list.  Yes, lots of Christmas music, too.  But if you don't see exactly what you want, I will do my very best to find it for you in time for the big day on the 25th.  Time is getting tight, but I always find myself working some musical magic in the final two weeks leading up to Christmas.

Finally, one other event coming up on Sunday might be worth your attention as well.  Suitcase in Point Theatre presents their annual Christmas Cabaret Sunday evening at The Merchant Ale House in downtown St. Catharines.  Performance times are 7 and 10 pm, with admission Pay What You Can, although $ 10 is respectfully suggested.

The cabaret is titled Lethal Reindeer Games II - No One is Safe! and declares war on Christmas...sort of.  Only the best team of reindeer detectives can save the holidays from the usual gang of bad guys, we're told, and through sketch comedy, surprise guests and lots of Christmas cheer, it all works out in the end.  Oh, and a nice touch is a suggestion to bring a non-perishable food item or more for Community Care.

So there you have it.  Lots to do this weekend to rid your soul of any remaining Grinchiness this holiday season.  Enjoy!

December 9th, 2011.

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