History Lesson

A few Saturdays ago, on an absolutely gorgeous September weekend, I headed out for a drive to Chadds Ford Days, a yearly two-day event held on the grounds of the Chadds Ford Historical Society. The air was cool, the sky was deep blue, and my drive along the back roads to get there brought back fond memories of growing up in rural Pennsylvania. Fall has always been my favorite time of year, and I was looking forward to kicking off the season with a bit of history, a hayride, music, food, and shopping. 

When I arrived at the festival I took some time to stroll around the host of vendors who were there with their wares. The array was really wonderful, from woodworkers and potters to soap-makers and basket-weavers. The hand-crafted goods on display were quite remarkable, exhibiting a pride of workmanship that’s a welcome change from what’s found in the average big box store. After shopping a bit I sat on a hay bale and enjoyed the sounds of bluegrass music played by the talented Skyline Band.

When the music was done I headed off to watch a demonstration by the Second Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Line, a volunteer group of history enthusiasts who’ve been authentically re-creating Revolutionary War units and battles since 1966. What a treat! The re-enactors were at the festival all day long to talk about the uniforms, flags, and lives of Revolutionary War soldiers, offering visitors a realistic look into this integral piece of American history, including my favorite, the firing of the regiment’s cannon.

There was plenty of great food to be had, too, from local favorites Jimmy John’s and MomPops, but the highlight for all had to be the chocolate milk from Baily’s Dairy at Pocopson Meadow Farm. The milk was delicious, yes, but accompanying the farmers were two lovely mascots—Prada, a 6-year-old Jersey cow, and Naomi, a brown Swiss calf that was just born on August 26. Pretty much everyone stopped to pet these beautiful, docile creatures, who seemed remarkably unbothered by the cannon fire around them.

After visiting with Naomi and Prada, I took a tour of the John Chads House, a two-bedroom stone-built home that dates back to the mid-1720s and gives visitors a look into Colonial life during the period of the Battle of the Brandywine. Then I strolled through the demonstrations area to see authentic representations of  Colonial caning, blacksmithing, spinning, and more. I also chatted with several young men and women from the society’s Junior Guides program, a group of young history buffs who learn eighteenth-century crafts and skills and then volunteer during Chadds Ford Days. The enthusiasm these kids showed for the day’s events was really incredible. I was even able to by a loaf of bread that they had baked authentically in the John Chads House’s beehive oven.

After having such a wonderful time at this event, I’m definitely going to check out the upcoming Great Pumpkin Carve (October 24–26), featuring the artistry of 60+ local pumpkin carvers, and the Annual Candlelight Christmas tour of homes in the Unionville area and Marlborough Village (December 7). For more information about these events, visit the Historical Society’s website, where you can also find out about the many benefits of membership.

—Michele Kornegay


“And of Their Memorial There Shall Be No End”

Summer is here! I just love this time of year, with late nights under warm, starry skies; cookouts, lemonade, and ice cream; and trips “down the shore” for sun and sand. To kick off our summer-long festivities this year, we headed to State Street in Media for the town’s Memorial Day parade. After a rainy, chilly start to the holiday weekend, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for the annual event.

I still can’t believe I’m able to be so close to the city yet still live a small-town life. Nothing beats a parade down Main Street USA in terms of Americana, and Media’s was no exception. Hundreds of peopled decked out in red, white, and blue joined us in a festive celebration of local heroes, complete with classic cars, a marching band, little leaguers, and fire trucks to delight the little ones.

Young and old from all walks of life—and a whole lot of dogs, too—lined State Street for the parade. The crowd cheered and applauded as veterans from all branches of the military from World War II forward, men and women, passed by. I thought of my 94-year-old grandfather, a Pearl Harbor survivor who lives in Harrisburg, and how touched he would be to see the outpouring of respect. Beneath the excitement over the unofficial start of summer was a palpable solemnity. The playing of “Taps” at the memorial wall honoring Media’s veterans at the start of the parade reminded us all of the true meaning of the day. 

Following the parade, we strolled down State Street to the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum, which preserves the living history of veterans in its remarkable collection. Normally open Thursdays through Sundays from noon until 5pm, the museum, located at 12 East State Street in the Media Armory, opened its doors especially for the holiday.

Dioramas, interactive kiosks, a mini movie theatre, and exhibits display memorabilia and tell of the true cost—and the valor—of war from the perspective of both the military and civilians. The museum is always free, and there are many excellent volunteers there to guide you through the collection. If you’ve never been, I urge you to visit this remarkably moving museum. We all could learn something from what’s contained in its walls.

Now that the summer season has begun, Media will be abuzz with lots of great events each week. Check out the calendar at visitmediapa.com for a complete listing. See you downtown!

—Michele Kornegay


In Bloom

Spring is here, which means it’s time to pay a visit to Tyler Arboretum!

Maybe I should rephrase that a bit. Truth is, I love to visit Tyler year-round. My family and I have been trekking through Tyler’s snowy grounds in winter; hiking through their cool, shady woods in summer; and enjoying the colorful splendor of the season in fall—in addition to celebrating the arrival of spring blooms—for nearly a decade now, since we first moved to the area.

Last Sunday was a perfectly crisp spring day, so we headed to Tyler to check out the newly completed Scenic Loop Path. But before we made our way to the path, we lingered among the magnolia trees and basked in their pink-and-white beauty. I honestly don’t think there’s a better place anywhere to see such perfect specimens of this early spring flowering tree. Families were spread out beneath the blooms enjoying snacks and picnics with their little ones, a scene we saw repeated throughout the arboretum that day. Looking upward, I noticed the contrasting pink flowers against the day’s blue sky—a picture so perfect that it took my breath away.

My son wanted to visit some of Tyler’s treehouses, now open for spring, so we meandered through the grounds to see his favorites. I still remember when the treehouses were installed at Tyler several years back. My son was so excited to check them out, and his enthusiasm hasn’t waned a bit over time. He loves them all, but I think his favorite is the Cape May Birdhouse, inspired by the arboretum’s Bluebird Trail and featuring architectural details and a paint scheme reminiscent of Cape May’s Victorian beach houses.

Still on our way to the trail, we stopped at the Pond in the hopes of seeing some of Tyler’s resident frogs and toads. Originally dug to as a source of irrigation water in the late 1940s, the Pond is fed by Rocky Run Stream, which runs through the arboretum and along the Blue Trail (our favorite!) on its way to Ridley Creek. The frogs and toads must have been hiding the day we visited, but we did get a kick out of several turtles sunning themselves on a makeshift “raft” in the center of the pond.

In time we arrived at the Scenic Loop Path, which begins just past the Pond. The paved path circles around the Meadow Maze, past the Giant Sequoia, into the heart of the Pinetum, and along the border of the Rhododendron Garden to complete the loop. The path allows ADA access for all visitors and is perfect for strollers, wheelchairs, and visitors of all ages and abilities. As we wandered along the path we were surprised to see early blooming azaleas and noted the dogwoods and redbuds that were just beginning to bloom. I plan to go back in a week or two to see them in their full glory—you should, too! It promises to be a magnificent display.

Tyler Arboretum, located at 515 Painter Road
 in Media, is now open for spring and summer hours: Monday through Friday, 9am–5pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 9am–6pm. Admission is $9 for adults ages 16–64, $8 for
 seniors 65 and older, $5 for youths ages 3–15, and free for children younger than 3. Become a member and enjoy unlimited free general admission and many other benefits, including members-only events and special discounts. And be sure to check out Tyler’s education programs for adults, which run the gamut from gardening to health and wellness, and children, including their renowned summer camp and eco-birthday parties.

—Michele Kornegay

Art in the Family

Last weekend my husband, son, and I visited the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington. Founded in 1912 in honor of artist Howard Pyle, the museum is situated in a residential neighborhood on a beautiful tree-lined street. With the cherry blossoms in bloom and spring finally here, the drive to the museum was just as lovely as what we found inside.

Before we ventured inside we strolled around the outdoor Copeland Sculpture Garden on the grounds of the museum. What a perfect day for it! Magnolias were in their full glory, the sun was shining, a cool breeze was blowing, and people were out among the grounds sketching buds and blooms. Someone was walking in the labyrinth toward the back of the sculpture garden. Built using seven tons of Delaware River Rock, the labyrinth gives visitors an opportunity to slow down and find quietude—the perfect state, in my opinion, for appreciating art.

The museum’s collection includes 12,000 works for art-lovers of all types to enjoy, from Pre-Raphaelite through postmodern American pieces. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum is showing five other exhibits, including “State of the Art: Illustration 100 Years After Howard Pyle,” which features more than sixty works from eight important illustrators. I was pleased to see “Creative Powers: Selections from Art Ability,” which showcases works by people with disabilities, and was particularly entranced by “Imagined Places: The Art of Alexi Natchev.” Natchev’s watercolors from his work as a children’s book illustrator pop with color and whimsy. I couldn’t stop looking at them!

A trip to the Delaware Art Museum is wonderful for families like ours who want to start their children on the path toward art appreciation. Between the sculpture garden, Natchev’s children’s book illustrations, and the illustrations from Finding Nemo, Wall•E, and Ice Age that are part of the “State of the Art” exhibit, there was much to keep my son enraptured. He marveled at the Chihuly Bridge and its extraordinary pieces of glass. But by far his favorite work was an art installation piece, Tunnel (found in the postmodern gallery), which you just have to see to believe. 

In addition to changing exhibitions, the museum has a full slate of evening events, activities, and programs throughout the year, including the upcoming Art Is Social, Artful Yoga, and Movie Night in the Sculpture Garden. Studio art classes at all levels are also offered for adults, teens, and youth. Be sure to check their website for more information!

Visit the Delaware Art Museum at 2301 Kentmere Parkway in Wilmington (phone: 302-571-9590; toll free: 866-232-3714. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. (closed Monday and Tuesday). Visit the website for more about upcoming exhibits, events, and classes, and be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter, too!

—Michele Kornegay

Jolly Good

For the past several years, my mother-in-law has been taking me to a tea room in Emmaus, just west of Allentown, to celebrate my birthday. We always have a lovely time sipping tea, feasting on sweet treats, and talking about life as part of the Kornegay clan (for the record, my mother-in-law is fabulous; I consider myself lucky to have such an incredible extended family).

I’ve often wondered if there was a local tea room that could offer up the same kind of experience—a relaxing place where ladies (and gentlemen) could go for a few hours of escape from the hectic world outside. I found it earlier this week, at Special Teas Tea Room in Chadds Ford. This quaint little spot in the Olde Ridge Village Shoppes, just off Route 202, is an oasis from the hub-bub of everyday life. Owned by sisters Carole Bradley and Judith Finnigan, Special Teas has been offering visitors homemade treats and a tremendous selection of teas for nearly 15 years.

The day I visited the tea room was cold, dreary, and drizzly—like many days lately, it seems. Although I love winter, I’m sure I’m not alone in longing for sunny skies. Spring is just around the corner (or so the groundhog tells us), but for now, I needed to feel warm and cozy again. I settled into my beautifully set table and ordered the Afternoon Tea for one, with Pai Mu Tan (white peony) tea. While I waited for my order I enjoyed the lovely instrumental music in the background and the sounds of quiet conversation around me.

What a treat it was when this gorgeous display arrived! The Afternoon Tea includes a selection of assorted tea sandwiches, miniature pastries, and a choice of a raisin or plain scone (I chose raisin), served with Devonshire cream, preserves, lemon curd, and a pot of tea. It was almost to pretty to eat. I later learned that Judith is responsible for baking all of the homemade pastries and other sweets on the menu, while Carole makes the salads, sandwiches, and everything else coming out of the kitchen. These sisters have definitely hit on a winning combination. Everything I tried was superb.

The menu also features a Children’s Tea for ages 10 and under that includes a pot of tea, six tea sandwiches, and two cookies—how much fun would it be to bring a little one for a fancy afternoon tea “party”?—as well as soups, quiche, salads (Caesar, chicken, tuna, egg), and sandwiches. Tea lovers will marvel at the variety of teas offered; I counted more than 30, including traditional black, flavored black, oolong, green, white, decaffeinated, herbal, Rooibus, and fruit-infused teas.

In addition to two rooms for enjoying tea, Special Teas also has a gift shop where visitors can purchase any of the teas on the menu, tea accessories, honey, curds, teapots, teacups, and other items. Hours for the tea room are noon to 3pm on Monday and 11am to 3pm Tuesday through Saturday; reservations are recommended, especially on Saturday. The tea room is also available for private parties and catering. Stay up to date on Special Teas’ newest teas and special events by following them on Facebook.

As these last few weeks of winter linger and the skies continue to be gray, treat yourself and a loved one to a spot of tea at Special Teas Tea Room. You’ll leave feeling relaxed, warmer, and oh-so-civilized. (British accent not required.)

—Michele Kornegay

Everything’s Coming Up Orchids

If I could choose to spend the rest of my days in one place on earth, it wouldn’t be Paris or Bali or even (as much as I love it) New York City. It would be Longwood Gardens. Longwood, formerly the summer estate of Pierre S. duPont, occupies over a thousand acres just outside Kennett Square and is a marvel of innovative garden design and horticulture.

I’ve been to Longwood Gardens with my family countless times in the 10 years that we’ve lived in the Brandywine Valley. We became garden members soon after moving here, and our membership has served us well over time. Our son has grown up with Longwood; from those early years in his stroller, he’s become a garden “regular.” These days he could give a guided tour possibly as well as anyone who works there, and we never leave without paying a visit to his old buddy Belin, the feline resident of the Pierce-duPont House.

But even though we’ve been to Longwood so many times, each time we visit we find something unexpected. A previously undiscovered nook in the conservatory, a fountain tucked away in the woods, a new color or variety of our favorite bloom—these are the details that keep us coming back again and again. We never know what we’ll find when we head to the gardens.

I visited Longwood last week to take in the “Orchid Extravaganza,” which opened on January 19 and will be on exhibit through March 24. I was anxious for a respite from the cold, gray days of January, but before I headed to the conservatory I walked around outside, savoring the tranquility. I was pleased to see that the treehouses are open, even during these cold days. If you come to the gardens with your children (or if you’re a kid at heart), bundle up and be sure to check them out!

When the chilly winds finally got to me, I headed to the conservatory. No matter how many times I cross through those doors, I’m always amazed by what I feel when I step inside. It’s hard to find just the right superlatives to describe it—it’s a stop-dead-in-your-tracks, just say “wow” moment. I stopped to take it all in, overwhelmed by the sights, smells, and artistry of my surroundings.

As with everything Longwood does, the Orchid Extravaganza is magnificent. I wandered around the conservatory, snapping photos and taking in the beauty of over 5,000 orchids in various displays. Highlights include six different Orchid Orbs, each weighing about 200 pounds and suspended above the East Conservatory and Exhibition Hall; the Orchid Arch comprised of 800 yellow Phalaenopsis orchids and spanning the entrance to the Exhibition Hall; and the triple-tiered yellow-and-white orchid chandelier hanging above the Exhibition Hall floor. Orchids are tucked away in every corner of the conservatory, from the Cascade Garden to the Palm House. As much as I tried, I’m sure I didn’t see all of them; no matter–this just means I have a reason to visit again soon!

This year’s theme at Longwood Gardens is “Beyond the Garden Gates.” Visitors have the opportunity to meet Longwood’s gardeners, enjoy talks and demonstrations, and go behind the scenes during special Beyond the Garden Gates Days, Beyond the Garden Gates Tours, Talks with the Gardeners, and Insider Tours. Find out more here. Ongoing events for families and kids include OrKID Days, Kids’ Storytimes, orchid scavenger hunts in the Children’s Garden, and more. Learn about family events here. Garden gates are open from 9am to 5pm daily. For directions, ticketing, and more information, visit the Longwood Gardens website.

—Michele Kornegay

Great Skate

I may be in the minority, but I love winter. The snow, the ice, bundling up against the blustery wind, even shoveling—I look forward to it each year. With its abnormally warm temperatures, this winter (so far) has been a bit disappointing for a cold-weather-lover like me. Other than one day of sledding just before New Year’s Eve, I haven’t gotten nearly as much winter fun in as I’d like. I’ve barely even had to wear my parka!

But as much as I love the cold, I’ve never been ice skating. I didn’t grow up in a town that had an ice rink or a pond that would get frozen-over in winter (at least not one I was willing to risk getting onto). Being of a certain age, I do have plenty of experience with roller skating, but those days of pom-poms, glittery laces, and disco balls are a long-distant—albeit very fond—memory. Basically, it’s been a good 30 years since I’ve had anything attached to the bottom of my shoes other than some nice 3-inch heels.

So when the opportunity arose for me to pay a visit to IceWorks Skating Complex, how could I resist? A few hours of icy cold fun was just what I needed, I thought, to remind myself that—yes!—it’s still winter. Located just off of Route 352 in Aston (and only 15 minutes from Philadelphia), the facility was easy to find for both me and my skating companions for the day, my friend Mary and her two children, Lila (age 4) and Jerry (age 9).

Upon arriving at the complex, I was awestruck by just how huge it is. IceWorks isn’t just a skating rink; it’s four separate skating rinks, in addition to a full-service restaurant, snack bar, pro shop, arcade, and banquet/party rooms. There’s plenty of space at the facility, both on and off the ice. Friendly staff members were on hand to direct us to the skate rental area and then to the rink being used that day for public skating. On our way we stopped to watch a few national-level figure skaters who were there that day for qualifications. Watching them glide across the ice, we were all inspired to give it a try ourselves.

Let’s just say, ice skating isn’t as easy as those graceful young men and women made it look. In fact, I’d say that our time on the ice could be described as anything but graceful. I tried channeling those long-gone days of roller skating with limited success. Luckily, while we were on the ice, we met an instructor from the facility, who gave us some tips to keep us on our feet (the most helpful? “Stand up straight!”). He later told me how he’s trained one adult who has gone on to win the Pennsylvania Adult Figure Skating Championship—at age 61! So perhaps there’s hope for me. 

Which leads me to my next point: IceWorks has an incredible Learn to Skate program. Classes are offered for all ages in both figure skating and ice hockey. As skaters advance, they can join one of IceWorks’ skating clubs; enjoy camps, clinics, and an annual Ice Show; compete as part of both in-house and club-level hockey teams (the Dragons, Phantoms, and Little Flyers); or participate in the IceWorks Academy and even high-level competitive skating. Private lessons are also offered. The trophy cases packed with awards in the facility’s lobby are evidence that IceWorks knows how to teach skating.

Despite our novice attempts to skate (and more than a few wipeouts), Mary, the kids, and I had a great time—and a lot of laughs. I got my winter “fix” for the day and re-lived some of those old roller skating memories. With a little practice, I think I may even become pretty good at it, and the experience opened up a whole new avenue of physical activity for me (cross that resolution off the list!). It was great getting out of my comfort zone for a few hours—thanks, IceWorks!

IceWorks is open for public skating 7 days a week (check the schedule here). On January 21, head to the complex for extended open skate hours during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The cost is $10 for adults and children over 4; children 4 and under are free. Skate rentals are $1 (free on Wednesdays). Discount skating, family value, and annual membership packages are also available. For more information about passes and packages, call 610-497-2200.

—Michele Kornegay


Media, Dressed in Holiday Style

Looking for holiday fun? Head to downtown Media! From decorated storefronts and buildings illuminated by night to carriage rides and a chance to whisper your fondest wish in Santa’s ear, the whole borough of Media gets in on the spirit of the season. Here’s what’s happening in Media over the next few weeks.

The borough of Media is aglow for the holidays.

* Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride tonight from 6–9pm. With just a teeny nip in the air, the weather couldn’t be more perfect for snuggling with your loved ones on a ride around the borough. Meet in front of the courthouse; the cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 10.

* Kids of all ages can find Santa in his village at the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union, at the corner of State & Olive Streets, today through Friday from 3–7pm and Saturday & Sunday from noon to 4pm. Bring your camera and take all the photos you’d like! On December 20 from 4–7, bring your favorite furry friend to pose with Santa. Use your own camera, or have the Delco SPCA photographer on hand take a photo (free!) and email it to you. (Please consider making a donation to the Delco SPCA if you bring your pet.)

* Visit The Media Theatre for a performance of Dr. Doolittle, starring Philly sportscaster Billy Vargus and a cast of delightful children. Read more about the show here. (Or, drive just a few miles outside of Media for a performance of A Christmas Carol at the Hedgerow Theatre in Rose Valley.)

* Head to downtown Media on New Year’s Eve for the Community Celebration and Ball Drop at the corner of State & Jackson Streets, with live music by Philly Gumbo. This much-anticipated annual event brings out residents and visitors for dancing in the street and the area’s only ball drop. Music starts at 11pm.

As an added bonus, parking is free in the Olive Street Parking Garage through December, and stores are open late through Christmas Eve. To find out more about these events and other happenings in Media, visit the Media Business Authority website.

Media's merchants get into the holiday spirit! Find winter items like this authentic Flexible Flyer sled at Blueberry Bog.

If you’re like me and have left most of your shopping for the last minute, you’ll find something for everyone on your list in Media’s boutiques, artisans’ galleries, vintage and home decor shops, jewelry and clothing stores, and more. Supporting local, family-owned businesses is a wonderful way to put money back into the community—and if customer service is important to you, it doesn’t get any better than at a small “Mom and Pop” shop.

Need a show-stopping outfit for a holiday party? You'll find just the right fit at one of Media's clothing stores, like Sorella Boutique.

As America’s First Fair Trade Town, Media also prides itself on its stores’ selection of items by local artisans and its focus on fair trade products. In Media, you can shop with the knowledge that your purchases will help provide a living wage for artisans both locally and globally. Such hand-crafted items are special, not mass-produced; if you’re looking for something that’s one-of-a-kind, Media is the place to find it.

Support artisans around the world with your purchase of fairly traded items at stores like Earth & State.

You’ll want to get a bite to eat while you’re shopping or paying a visit to Santa. No trip to Media would be complete without a visit to one of its fabulous restaurants—the only problem is which one to choose! Name it; Media’s got it (seriously). I can’t think of another town where you can walk down the main street and find Italian, Irish, French, Middle Eastern, Asian, Mexican, Continental, vegetarian/vegan, pizza, soup and sandwiches, pub food, and dessert—and I’m sure I’m leaving something out!—just mere steps from one another. And of course, restaurant gift certificates always make a great gift.

One of my favorite restaurants in Media is Diego's Cantina and Tequila Bar. Call 484-442-8741 to learn more about their January 16 Patrón Tequila Dinner.

I’ve gotten to know the faces behind many of the shops and restaurants in Media—the people who put a whole lot of heart and soul into their businesses to create a warm and welcoming environment you’ll want to return to again and again. If you have a chance, pay them a visit. I’m sure you’ll grow to love them, too.

Happy Holidays!

—Michele Kornegay

Note: Street scene photograph by Ralph Nardell Photography.

Oh, Christmas Tree!

One of my favorite family traditions at the holidays is getting our Christmas tree at Linvilla Orchards. For the past three years my husband, son, and I have been hopping on board a hayride, grabbing a saw, and venturing into Linvilla’s fields to pick the best tree we can find. This year we truly outdid ourselves, bringing home our biggest tree yet. And what fun we had finding it!

We are a household of Christmas fanatics. Granted, it’s probably hard to find a person who doesn’t like the holiday season, and having a 10-year-old in the family definitely brings a whole lot of fervor to the month of December. But how many families do you know that wouldn’t buy a house unless it was the perfect “Christmas house”? We stay in the Christmas spirit all year long, purchasing ornaments as souvenirs whenever we’re on vacation or visiting a new place, so the prelude to buying our tree each year lasts for months.

Three years ago we decided to check out Linvilla’s cut-your-own-tree hayride. Prior to that we had changed our tree-buying spot each year, searching for just the right place with just the right tree—and a bunch of Christmas spirit, too. We were looking for somewhere that took the holidays as seriously as we do. Now that we’ve found Linvilla, we’ll never go anywhere else.

Being on a hayride with other folks going to get their tree for the holidays is a special experience. Little ones bundled up for the chilly weather, parents taking pictures, young couples snuggling . . . for a Christmas-lover like me, it’s perfection, plain and simple. As the tractor approaches the field, passengers start scanning the area for “their” tree, the one that will go home with them and become the centerpiece of their family’s holiday celebration.

And here’s the best part about it: Every family has a different idea about what their tree should be. Tall, short, skinny, full—there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to Christmas trees. People scatter in all directions after disembarking from the hayride; cries of “I found it!” and then “Tim-ber!” arise from the field. After they’re cut, trees are taken back to the path, where they’re spirited away by Linvilla’s friendly staff. Then it’s back on the hayride to return to Linvilla, where a warm fire and marshmallows for toasting greet you.

While we waited for our tree to be bundled to go on the roof of our car—and I must give a shoutout to whoever devised this wonderfully efficient system!—we sipped some homemade hot apple cider and browsed through Linvilla’s Garden Center chock full of Christmas decorations, poinsettias, candles, toys, and much more. After a wave to Santa, it was off to the Farm Market for fresh cider donuts. We picked up our tree, returned home, cranked up the Christmas music, and spent the rest of the day decorating the perfect tree for our family, in our perfect Christmas house.

Linvilla’s Cut-Your-Own Christmas Tree Hayrides run Monday–Friday, 10am–5pm, and 
Saturday & Sunday, 9am–5pm, through December 23. For something extra-special, enjoy Wassailing Caroling Hayrides on December 15 & 22 at 5pm and 6:30pm (more information on hayrides at the link). Santa visits Linvilla Saturdays and Sundays from 1–3pm; bring your camera!

Don’t want to cut your own tree? Linvilla also has a wonderful assortment of precut trees in all sizes and prices, in addition to greens, roping, and wreaths. For a special treat for someone who made your “Nice List” this year, send them one of Linvilla’s fruit and gift baskets (see the full selection here). And don’t forget to place your holiday order for Linvilla’s renowned baked goods—I recommend the apple caramel walnut pie!

—Michele Kornegay

Rx for Family Fun at The Media Theatre

I knew that a trip to The Media Theatre for its production of Dr. Dolittle would be a real treat for my son, a lover of all things nature- and animal-related. Having reviewed several shows at the theatre over the past few years, I was looking forward to Artistic Director Jesse Cline’s interpretation of this classic story of a man who prefers animals to humans.

As luck would have it, the Philadelphia Zoo On Wheels was making an appearance upstairs before the show. We were able to meet Hardy, an active prehensile-tail skink; Picchu, a lovely (and vocal) blue and gold macaw; Phoebe, a shy hedgehog; and Pinky the nine-banded armadillo. After learning more about these amazing creatures and enjoying a homemade sugar cookie from the cafe, we headed into the theatre for the performance.

As Dr. Dolittle, Bill Vargus commands the stage with a stately and confidant manner that projects just the right mix of compassion (for animals) and disdain (for people). Lauren Cupples gives a strong, soulful turn as Emma Fairfax. Sean Thompson imbues his portrayal of Matthew Mugg with wonder and innocence. The blustery General Bellowes is portrayed with flair by Dan Schiff. Jef Canter is comedy perfection as opportunistic circus-owner Albert Blossom. Spirited ensemble pieces include “My Friend the Doctor,” “I’ve Never Seen Anything Like It,” and “Save the Animals.”

Playing the roles of the doctor’s furry and feathered friends in the show are members of the theatre’s Youth Ensemble. The whole menagerie—including seals, dogs, a chimp, a duck, a fox, a cow, a pig, and more—is a delight! These talented performers are a testament to the theatre’s outstanding education programs. My son was quite interested in finding out more about these young actors. Could I have a budding performer on my hands? I hope so!

Dr. Doolittle will be on stage at The Media Theatre through January 27; visit the link for showtimes and tickets. The Zoo On Wheels will be visiting the theatre before matinee performances for the next three Saturdays.

The holidays are an exciting time at The Media Theatre. A Velveteen Rabbit Christmas, part of the theatre’s children’s series, is also showing each Saturday morning at 11am through December 29 (with an additional show Friday, December 7, at 9:45am). New this year, the theatre is offering a special five-day holiday camp featuring acting, dance, and vocal lessons for kids ages 6–16, starting on December 26. The theatre is also raffling off tickets for a chance to win a trip to London valued at $12,000. Only 200 tickets will be sold (making the odds of winning far better than that Powerball lottery last week); the winner will be announced at the theatre’s annual gala, to be held February 23.

Still looking for a great holiday present? The theatre has gift cards! I can’t think of a better treat for a theatre lover or aspiring actor on your list. Or ask about purchasing an engraved gold star to be placed on the theatre’s Wall of Fame, part of the upcoming remodel of the theatre lobby. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Delaware County’s only professional theatre, and help keep the arts alive!

—Michele Kornegay

Note: Performance photos by Maura McConnell of Maura McConnell Photography in Media.

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Delaware County�s Brandywine CVB  |  1501 N. Providence Rd.  |  Media, PA 19063
Phone: 800-343-3983  |  Fax: 610 627-9207