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.

A Celebration for All Ages

My family and I kicked off the holidays in splendid style this past weekend with a visit to the Brandywine River Museum. I hadn’t been to the museum in a few years and was looking forward to getting into the spirit of the season, so I was excited to take in “A Brandywine Christmas.” 

At the top of my son’s must-see list were the model trains. Head Engineer Dave Jensen, Curator Steven Clarke, and museum employees like Joe Bauer, who’s been donning his blue-and-white-striped engineer’s cap each year for over a decade, spend six days—even Thanksgiving Day—setting up the railroad for holiday visitors. Comprising 28 separate sections, more than 2000 feet of track, 150 locomotives (as many as 5 running at once), and 300 freight cars, this O-gauge masterpiece will delight kids and grown-ups alike.

Joe handed my son a list of things to find—including a lighthouse, a Christmas tree farm, a Renaissance fair, an oil well, a waterfall, the Herr’s Snack Factory, two lumberjacks, seven refinery workers, eight Santas, and more! Train buffs will appreciate that this year’s display, evocative of the 1950s (there’s even a drive-in movie theatre), includes rare Japanese model trains made by Sakai, Stronlite, Ajin, and IMP; youngsters will enjoy seeing their favorite “Thomas the Tank Engine” characters chugging around the tracks. It’s really a sight to behold!

After taking in the trains, we visited the museum’s other galleries. In addition to its impressive permanent collection of landscape and genre painting, still life and portraits, American illustration, and three generations of art by the Wyeth family, the museum is also showing two special exhibits through January 6, “Pop-Up! Illustration in 3-D” and “Golden Impressions of Andrew Wyeth by Donald Pywell.”

Pop-Up!” features the work of paper engineers who create art for pop-up books; from the whimsical ABC Dinosaurs to the stunning Beauty and the Beast, pieces from the late nineteenth century to the present bring to the fore an art form that would perhaps otherwise go unappreciated. “Golden Impressions,” an exhibit of jewelry by local goldsmith Donald Pywell inspired by paintings by Andrew Wyeth, is similarly impressive. Necklaces, earrings, brooches, and bracelets, hand crafted over three decades by Pywell as gifts for Wyeth’s wife Betsy, are shown in displays designed by Chadds Ford artist Mark Cole that are themselves works of art.

In addition to the exhibits, the museum will be presenting its much-anticipated Annual Critter Sale on December 1 and 2, featuring hand-crafted “critter” ornaments made by museum volunteers; the sale will take place in the museum’s lecture room (admission is free). Also on December 1, from 10am to noon, author Paige Singer and illustrator Rob Dionne will be at the museum signing copies of their newly published children’s book, Teasel and Twigs: ‘Tis a Christmas Critter Tale. Proceeds from both events will benefit the Museum Volunteers’ Art Purchase Fund. 

On our way out of the museum, we perused the artisans’ booths in the outdoor courtyard. Quilts, jewelry, wooden bowls and ornaments, calligraphy, and other wares—all locally made—are available for purchase each weekend. The museum’s indoor gift shop, featuring a wonderful assortment of items (including some of those phenomenal pop-up books), is open during regular museum hours. After a brisk but beautiful stroll on the museum’s grounds along the Brandywine, my family and I returned home to a treat of hot tea sweetened by the local Swarmbustin’ Honey we purchased in the courtyard, marveling at how the museum truly has something for everyone to enjoy.

“A Brandywine Christmas” will be on display at the Brandywine River Museum, located on U.S. Route 1 in Chadds Ford, through January 6. The museum is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9:30am to 4:30pm. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors ages 65 and over, $6 for students and children ages 6–12, and free for children under 6 and Brandywine Conservancy members. To find out more about the benefits of membership, visit the museum website!

—Michele Kornegay

A Brandywine State of Mind

I was a Jersey girl before I moved to West Chester. Although I was born in Pennsylvania and lived in the state through my college years, after graduate school I ended up in northern New Jersey, just outside of Manhattan. I honestly thought I’d stay there forever. I loved the hustle and bustle, the proximity to the “action,” and my job on Madison Avenue.

But when my husband was offered a position in Media, he just couldn’t turn it down. It was a great opportunity, one of those once-in-a-lifetime chances that you just can’t refuse. The only hitch? I didn’t want to leave New Jersey. So he made the commute, staying with a friend three nights a week and driving back and forth to our home on the other days. (I should mention here how wonderful my husband is.)

This arrangement worked for awhile, but with time it grew old. I missed him, he missed me. The stress of it all wasn’t good for either of us. During one of those weeks when we just didn’t want to be apart for three whole days, my husband’s host suggested that we have a mid-week rendezvous at Sweetwater Farm Bed & Breakfast, a Georgian manor and cottages situated on 50 acres in Glen Mills.

 

Looking back, I can say that our two-day stay at Sweetwater Farm played a big part in convincing me that I should give up New Jersey for the Brandywine Valley. The tranquility and beauty of the B&B and the graciousness of the innkeepers provided a tonic for what ailed me. My stress melted away as I strolled the grounds and took in the splendor of the area. I said goodbye to the big city and embraced a more relaxed lifestyle here.

Fast-forward 12 years to today. Stress has a way of creeping in, no matter how hard you try to keep it at bay. Kids, work, money—and aren’t the holidays just around the corner?—all of it was recently bringing back that old feeling of anxiety. And again, Sweetwater Farm came to the rescue—only this time it was courtesy of Grace Winery, which opened just a few years ago on the grounds of the B&B.

I headed to the winery this past weekend to try their offerings. As luck would have it, the day’s tasting was being held in the vineyard. The week’s earlier cold temperatures had given way to a glorious warm fall weekend,  so being outside among the vines was a wonderful escape from reality. Three chardonnays, two rosés, a merlot, and a glass of mulled wine later, I can honestly say that whatever stress I was once feeling is now gone.

The wines are light, crisp, and not too sweet–just the way I like them. The atmosphere is festive yet relaxed, with couples and groups of friends coming in and out for tastings. The hosts who poured the wines, Alex and Kathryn on the day I visited, are knowledgeable and friendly. Ordinarily tastings are held in a converted barn on the property, an amazing structure that perfectly blends the old and the new. (The day I visited, the barn was being used for a wedding party; yes, you can rent out the facilities for group functions!)

Before the stress of the holiday season rolls in—or even while you’re in the midst of it—I suggest you pay a visit to Grace Winery, which is open each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for tastings ($7; check the website for hours). For the remainder of the year, tastings will be held in the barn, with the exception of December 8, when the winery will be closed. If you have family or friends coming into town, consider lodging them at Sweetwater Farm B&B. Who knows? Maybe they’ll end up wanting to move to the Brandywine Valley, too.

—Michele Kornegay

Unplugged

I’ll admit it; I’m probably a little bit too “connected.” With my iPhone always in my hand, I’m usually switching from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram, then on to email, text messaging, the stock market app, and Huffington Post—and let’s not forget Fruit Ninja. I could say that I need to stay on top of everything because of work, but that wouldn’t entirely be true. It’s become a habit, an all-too-familiar one in our modern age.

So what struck me most when I walked across the wooden walkway and entered the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, located on 112 acres inside Ridley Creek State Park, was the silence. Other than the wind rustling through the trees and the sound of a rooster crowing, it was quiet—noticeably so. I slowed down my pace, breathed in deeply, and put my iPhone in my purse—and I didn’t reach for it again until I left, several hours later.

The Plantation seeks to re-create the life of an Edgmont farm family during the mid-eighteenth century. Owned during this time by the Pratts, Quakers who purchased the property in 1720, the land belonged to the family until 1833. The property was privately owned and used as a home until the 1950s. In April 1976, in honor of the Bicentennial Year of our country, the Plantation began welcoming the public as a living history site. Now open on weekends from spring through early December, the Plantation, staffed by volunteers with a true passion for making history come alive, provides visitors with a remarkable look back at our country’s early days.

I lingered as I walked the grounds of the Plantation, stopping to photograph the beautiful fall foliage and to visit with the piglets in their stall (the Plantation is also home to sheep, chickens, and geese that roam throughout the grounds; a horse named Abigail; and Frye, a steer), but the smell of a wood fire coming from the house invited me to keep moving. I was told before I arrived that I’d be able to see a demonstration of authentic Colonial hearth cooking, and this was something I’d been anticipating all week.

When I walked through the front door of the Plantation home and into the kitchen, I was greeted by Vicki, a 9-year volunteer; Sue, who’s been at the Plantation for 2 years; and young Miriam, who’s been volunteering with her father David for 3 years. Vicki was in the midst of cooking, which is how she spends much of her time as a volunteer. All of her cooking is done authentically according to the time period—using the methods and ingredients our forbears would have used. She stepped into and out of the huge hearth, moving cast iron pots from place to place as she prepared a meal, as she does each weekend, for her fellow volunteers.

What’s unique about the Plantation, as opposed to other historical sites and museums, is that visitors are invited to touch and experience everything they see. Sit on the chairs, dig your hands into a basket of freshly shorn wool, pull water from the well—none of it is off limits. I took a brief tour of the house with Sue and the grounds with David, but when Miriam rang the dinner bell, I headed back to the kitchen quickly, anxious to try the meal to which I’d been so graciously invited.

 

I’ve eaten at many of the area’s finest restaurants; you could say it’s a hobby of mine. But I’ve got to say, that meal of Swiss chard with potatoes, onions, and sorrel; pumpkin soup with clove; and fresh-out-of-the-hearth wheat bread with preserves made from raspberries picked in the park was the most soul-satisfying one I’ve had in quite some time. Maybe it was the company of those who enjoy what they do so much, maybe it was the warmth of the fire, maybe it was the stillness of the moment. I can’t quite put my finger on it—but what I do know is that during that meal I felt a deep appreciation for those who came before us and worked together to create what we have today. I can think of no better testament to the hard-working volunteers at the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation than that.

The Plantation will be open on weekends through December 8. This weekend (October 27 and 28), join them for their annual Halloween at the Plantation celebration from 11am to 5pm each day (last entry at 4pm). Visitors can enjoy story times, a puppet show, trick-or-treating, visits with the animals, a mock witch trial, and demonstrations of candle making, corn husk dolls, box loom rug-making, and more. Other upcoming special events include a Militia Muster with the 4th Legionary Cavalry on November 10 and Christmas on the Farm on December 8. For more information on these and other happenings at the Plantation, visit their website at colonialplantation.org.

—Michele Kornegay

A Brandywine Christmas: Pt. 4

Did you know that the Brandywine River Museum’s train collection has had the same conductor for 35 years? It’s the responsibility of museum employee Steven Clarke to work year-round to prepare for the six-week display – repairing trains, maintaining the equipment and organizing teams of volunteers for the massive set-up effort.
“Most train displays are either old, wonderful and valuable trains displayed in cases or realistic working models of specific times and locations,” explains Clarke. “We are a combination of both.”
Frequently, Clarke has to play mechanic to rebuild and customize the trains in order to make these objects meant to by toys able to run “industrially” – pulling 150-car freight trains for nine hours straight, seven days a week for six weeks. Clarke compares the train display like prepping for a stage production and his audience is rarely disappointed.
“I don’t think children these days are used to playing with toy trains like they used to,” Clarke continues. “We used to play with toys you built yourself. Children today mostly play with virtual toys, I think, so it’s a novelty to see real things actually doing real things.
“When I was a kid, my Dad was a junior officer and money was tight. When we went somewhere, it was a big deal. That’s why I tell the volunteers that our job is to make the display nice for everyone – it doesn’t matter who you think they are. Everyone who comes, chooses to come here. They easily could have gone somewhere else and we need to be prepared to show them a great display. That tends to be the guiding principle of my showmanship.” Well this sums up our Brandywine Christmas series. Thanks for following along, we hope you all enjoyed reading!

A Brandywine Christmas: Pt. 3

Yesterday, you learned the train and ornament tradition of A Brandywine Christmas. Now we will learn another tradition that has been around for quite some time. Another facet of the Brandywine Christmas tradition comes from the legacy of N.C. Wyeth’s youngest daughter, Ann Wyeth McCoy, who began collecting beautiful bisque dolls in her childhood. Through the generosity of her children, more than 60 dolls will be arranged in small groups as though engaged in familiar wintertime activities, dressed in antique doll clothing or costumes designed and sewn by Mrs. McCoy from antique fabrics.
While Mrs. McCoy began collecting the dolls at the age of eight, she didn’t acquire a dollhouse for her beloved toys until 1966 when her husband, artist John McCoy, renovated a former tool shed that was on their summer property near Port Clyde, Maine. Mr. McCoy divided the interior into two floors with six main rooms and added a bow window, chimney and front porch. The “dollhouse” – significantly larger than most – measures 8 x 10 feet and stands 9 ½ feet high, large enough for two people to walk into.
The dollhouse was moved decades ago to the McCoys’ Pennsylvania property and is a featured part of the 2011 Christmas display. During her life, Mrs. McCoy decorated the rooms and furnished them with pieces from her collection. She especially enjoyed decorating the house for Christmas, recalling her own childhood when Christmas was the special purview of her father. From an old fashioned Christmas tree to the scaled reproduction of N. C. Wyeth’s Old Kris that hangs above the mantelpiece in the living room, the McCoy dollhouse is a delightful miniature world.
And so, the question is this: what are you asking for this year at Christmastime? Maybe to experience again the wide-eyed excitement of seeing a train coming around the track? Being able – as an adult – to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of the dolls your grandmother had in her parlor? Perhaps your family tradition is picking out an annual critter for your tree, in order to one day hand them down to a special little someone. However – and with whomever – you choose to enjoy A Brandywine Christmas, it’s guaranteed to make your holiday season magically bright. Stay tuned for some fun facts about our train collection!

A Brandywine Christmas: Pt. 2

Yesterday, we learned about what A Brandywine Christmas meant for some families. Today, we will take a closer look at what makes this experience so special for many. The trains have been a part of A Brandywine Christmas since 1971, with Steven Clarke serving as the curator for the past 35 years. The layout features “O” gauge trains running on approximately 2,000 feet of track. Both scale model and toy trains are included, including one car that features a camera to provide an engineer’s view through a mounted monitor. Some train “celebrities” – a.k.a. Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends – can often been seen in the layout which is home to a town, a working train yard, model dairy, quarry, oil refinery, concrete plant and Herrs Food factory. And yes, even Santa and his sleigh fly over the busy scene.
Just as famous as the train display – perhaps even more so – is the grand collection of whimsical “critter” ornaments that appear every holiday season. The critters, made by volunteers from dried flowers, grasses, seeds and pods, fill several themed Christmas trees within the museum. For many families, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without admiring these natural little charmers who have been around since the early days of the museum when a group of volunteers decorated a small tree with natural materials, to emphasize the museum’s role as part of the Brandywine Conservancy.
Those first ornaments were somewhat simple creations, but as the years have gone by, the critters have become more and more elaborate, eventually gaining national attention. In 1984, museum volunteers were asked to decorate the main Christmas tree in the Reagan White house and more than 3,000 critters were required for the project. Critters have also been on display at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History. No matter where they are, they always bring delight to the audiences who admire them.
“In addition to the trains, my daughters also loved the Christmas trees adorned with ornaments made from pinecones, twigs, and other forest finds,” continues Fackler, the mom of two from Ambler, PA. “They were so delighted to see the little “woodland creatures” the artists created.”
And artists, they are. Every year, over 100 volunteers give Santa’s elves a run for their money as they gather to create the ornaments in a workshop on the conservancy campus. These dedicated critter creators work for over 30,000 hours in order to make almost 9,000 ornaments – some for display, but most for the popular Annual Critter Sale, scheduled this year for Saturday, December 3rd and Sunday, December 4th from 9:30am to 4:30pm. (Following the sale, critters can be purchased at the Museum Shop with proceeds benefiting the Volunteers’ Art Purchase Fund, which has added more than 200 paintings, drawings and prints to the Museum’s holdings since 1975.) That’s all for today folks! Please come back tomorrow to learn more about this special occasion!

Note:
Founded in 1971, the Brandywine River Museum holds American art, especially the foremost collection of art by members of the Wyeth family, including N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth. The museum also features renowned collections of American illustration, landscape and still life painting. The museum is located in a restored, mid-19th century grist mill on U.S. Route 1 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania along the banks of the Brandywine River. A Brandywine Christmas runs from November 25th, 2011 through January 8th, 2012. The museum is open daily, 9:30am to 4:30pm, except Christmas Day, and with extended hours until 6:00pm December 26th through 30th. Admission is $10 for adults; $6 for seniors ages 65 and over, students, and children over six; free for children under six and museum members. Due to the large number of visitors during the holiday season, the museum is unable to accommodate baby strollers. For more information, call 610-388-2700 or visit www.brandywinemuseum.org.

A Brandywine Christmas Pt. 1

Every December, the Brandywine River Museum transforms into an old-fashioned winter wonderland, faithfully delivering the Christmas spirit to children of all ages.

Christmas is truly a magical time. All you have to do is take a few moments and watch the anticipation of a child filling out his Christmas list, trying to choose which Christmas cookie she should take off the tray or staring in amazement as they sit on the lap of a man with a long white beard.
Sometimes, these days, catching those moments is a little more challenging than it used to be. In a world where everything seems to be instant, it’s important to take time to appreciate loved ones and make memories…and that’s what makes A Brandywine Christmas at the Brandywine River Museum such a beloved tradition.
For decades, families have visited the museum to see the extensive model train layout, adorable and all-natural “critter” ornaments and charming antique doll collection as an important part of their own holiday celebration. As a matter of fact, A Brandywine Christmas is such a Delaware Country tradition that it isn’t very difficult to find people enthusiastic about the memories they have.
“We went to the River Museum when my children were 6 and 7 years old,” says Susan Taylor, an Army wife currently living in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. “It was a tough Christmas for us (as their Dad was deployed in Iraq at the time) so I was all about making memories for them. The trains at the Brandywine River Museum did not disappoint! We were all just blown away by the details in the displays; we even talked about which one we would pick to live in if we could. It was especially neat to share this experience with my own parents – showing that this truly is an attraction that appeals to all ages.”
Janel Fackler, a stay-at-home mother of two from Ambler, Pennsylvania, agrees that the exhibit is a great one to visit.
“I took my daughters, ages 2 & 4, to the Brandywine River Museum, along with my parents and my sister,” she explains. “The train display was definitely a highlight of the visit for all of us. My father, who has been a train enthusiast for years, both enjoyed and appreciated the intricacy of the set and my daughters loved that there were so many moving parts, and that they could look for Santa in the scene. This was a fun, inexpensive day trip, which added to the magic of the Christmas season.”
The trains – as well as the entire seasonal display – have also been an important tradition to the Naismith family of Media, Pennsylvania.
“We have gone almost every year with the boys, from toddler age to last year at ages 18, 16 and 14,” says mom Louise. “They love to see the additions and changes to the layout. We even “steal” ideas for our own train setup under our tree!” Please check back tomorrow for some more train and ornament stories!

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, Unique event venues: This and that. Here and there.

This is the seveth part of a series on unique venues in the Brandywine Valley. Read our first chapter here on the Battleship New Jersey, And our other installments here: The American Helicopter Museum and Education Center, Gardens and Arboretums, Ridley Creek State Park, Wineries, IceWorks.

Two other local venues also offer creative locations for kids and adults alike. The Community Arts Center in Wallingford, PA is able to host many different types of functions in a variety of spaces, including the new 3,100 square foot Duke Gallery. The new gallery with soaring ceilings, post and beam construction and great light is air-conditioned and fully accessible. Exhibitions in the gallery enhance the ambiance and feature the works of both locally and nationally recognized artists. Situated on four acres of landscaped grounds, the Arts Center is centrally located with easy access to I-476. Kids’ birthday parties are also held here and include the use of a room, an instructor and arts and crafts activity. Creative kids also celebrate at the Darlington Arts Center in Garnet Valley, PA at parties designed around an artistic theme – either music, art, dance or drama. As with the Community Arts Center, Darlington is also available for more grown-up events and frequently hosts cocktail receptions in their open dance studio, often with instrumental music provided by the school’s music students and faculty.

The Brandywine Conference and Visitors Bureau is available to assist you in your site search. Descriptions of hundreds of locations are included in the listing sections of this guide, and links to many of their web sites are available online at www.brandywinecvb.org. For individuals responsible for planning corporate events or large group tours, the event specialists at the BCVB can help with questions you may have and arrange customized tours of event locations.


Our area has been entertaining visitors for centuries – all the way back to when William Penn and his Quakers first landed on the banks of the Delaware River. Even then, the Native Americans who greeted them had spectacular scenery as a setting for that historical occasion. Whether you are looking for an event for hundreds with a view of the water or a gathering of a few in a kid-friendly attraction – and anything in between – Delaware County’s Brandywine Country is the place to be. We look forward to being the place where your celebration memories are made.



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