Friday, December 16, 2011

3rd Annual Drive-Through Nativity Again to Highlight Christmas in York


York-area residents and holiday visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy a special Christmas celebration again this year as members of First Parish Church present the Third Annual Drive-Through Nativity, “The Journey to Bethlehem.”

Staged as a living tableau with live, authentically costumed actors portraying all the characters of the original Christmas story, the program will take place, rain or shine, on Saturday evening, Dec. 17, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., in the loop around Town Hall and the church in York Village. Admission will be free, and all are invited.

Dozens of volunteers have worked for several months preparing for the event, according to Janet and Larry Cassidy, its co-chairs, and many more will perform as actors on the evening of the performance. “Besides the actors,” he said, “the committees range from set design, props and costumes to carpentry, lighting and even live animals.”

“There will be seven distinct scenes,” Janet explained. “The first is the annunciation of Mary by the angel Gabriel, which will be right behind Town Hall. Then, there will follow a series of scenes including Caesar’s Palace, travelers on the road to Bethlehem, the wise men, the overcrowded inn, shepherds and angels in the field and, of course, the manger.”

Church members, children and adults, will be portraying the more than 70 characters in the nativity story, according to the Cassidys.

The audience will be able to view each scene from the comfort – and warmth – of their vehicles, entering from York Street next to Town Hall and slowly traversing the loop around to the exit between the church and the Parish House. For safety reasons, no walk-through pedestrians will be allowed during the event.

The annual event draws hundreds of vehicles, the occupants of which find the experience especially moving, according to the Cassidys.

“We’re hoping to again make Christmas in York even more special than it already is,” said Janet. “And, of course, we’re hoping that this event will serve to remind everyone of the true meaning of Christmas.”

“We’re not doing this for ourselves,” Larry added, “although the participants are certainly enthusiastic about the project. We’re doing it for the people of York. It’s our gift to our community.”

Photo Caption: The angel Gabriel's annunciation of Mary (scene 1 of 7). (Courtesy photo)

Local Communities Celebrate the Season


Many towns in York County have been celebrating the holiday season in style with a variety of events over the past few weeks. In particular, the last two weekends featured Ogunquit’s 25th annual Christmas by the Sea and Kennebunkport’s 30th annual Christmas Prelude™. Both visitors and local residents enjoyed festivities, including Santa’s Village at Ogunquit Village School (pictured). The weather provided an excellent occasion for multiple parades, and put everyone in the spirit for the upcoming holidays. (Photo by Molly McCoy)

Marshwood Education Foundation Awards Fall Grants


The Marshwood Education Foundation (MEF) announced the recipients of its fall grants at the December 7 MSAD 35 Board meeting. The grants, totaling $8,742.80, were awarded to three recipients whose proposals will benefit elementary and middle school-aged Marshwood students.

“With each grant cycle, we are excited to see so many new ideas proposed by our educators, along with ideas that will enhance current programs,” said Rachel Martin, MEF President. “One school is trying out a brand new concept, while a previous grant project is being expanded upon as the children share what they learned through the outdoor classroom at Central Elementary School,” added Martin. “Another grant is helping to further develop a long-standing community event that students and their families will enjoy for generations to come.”

The Marshwood Education Foundation was established in 2009 and raises funds solely through community events and private donations. MEF is committed to supporting public education in Eliot and South Berwick through funding innovative educational opportunities that fall outside of the responsibility of the school budget. Grants are awarded twice annually, in the spring and fall.

MEF grants awarded December 7, 2011:

From The Ground Up – proposed by Kate Smith, Music teacher at Central School. Students will work with Ruth Baker, Jane Cowen-Fletcher and other community volunteers to develop a cookbook and guide for successfully creating an outdoor classroom and hoop house garden project. Students will create their own recipes to be included in the book as well as develop creative ways to document the creation of the outdoor classroom. $1500.00

Standing and Swinging – proposed by Beth Werker, Math teacher at Marshwood Middle School. $2242.80 will be awarded to purchase seven Stand and Swing desks. These innovative desks allow students to either stand or sit and swing their legs while learning. By offering students an outlet for their excess energy, these desks help students stay focused on learning. Each student in Mrs. Werker's classes will get an opportunity to try the desk and give their feedback.

Revitalizing Local History Education – proposed by Nina Maurer, Consulting Curator of the Old Berwick Historical Society and Vicki Stewart, Principal at Central Elementary School. Through this grant and funds being sought from other sources, the current Hike through History program will be greatly enhanced. MEF will grant $5,000.00 to purchase new tour artifacts and pay for the services of a curriculum planner. This grant will provide new local history resources to teachers, develop a program for teaching middle school students who help present the hike material, and create an online Hike through History resource.

The MEF is now accepting applications for the spring 2012 grants. For more information on how to submit a grant application, contact Janice Hastings, MEF Grants Committee Chairperson at

The Marshwood Education Foundation was established as a non-profit corporation, wholly dedicated to enriching and supplementing the educational programs of the Maine School Administrative District 35, representing the communities of South Berwick and Eliot. The MEF has granted more than $40,000 to the district, funding creative and innovative ideas brought forth by school administrators, teachers and staff. To learn more about the MEF or to donate online, visit

Lebanon Rescue Department Announces Operation Red Light


The Lebanon Rescue Department encourages residents to invite Santa to their house on Friday, December 23. Santa and his elves will be driving around in the ambulances delivering one gift to every child age 1-16 that would like to get one. Santa will drop off a wrapped gift to each child, thanks to Santa’s helpers. Lebanon Girl Scouts will help wrap the gifts for Santa to hand out.

“This is our first year chauffeuring Santa around town to deliver a gift to the children in town,” said Chief Samantha Cole. “We have been very fortunate to have such great community support and this is another way for the rescue volunteers to thank the community for their support of our department over the past thirty years. We are really excited to get out into the community with Santa and see the children.”

This is part of the rescue department’s holiday programs being offered. Rescue volunteers collected and donated several large thanksgiving baskets to Lebanon families. The Department is also once again collecting Coats for Kids, a program where residents can donate new or used coats, snow pants, hats and mittens to help children have a warmer winter. Last year, 857 coats were collected and donated. Lebanon Rescue is also collecting new toys for Operation Santa. The toys are donated to children in Lebanon who have suffered a traumatic event, like a loss of a parent or families with financial hardships.

Any family that would like Santa to drop off a present for their child is encouraged to contact the rescue department by calling (207) 608-5615. You can also email us at Each family that requests a toy will receive an age appropriate toy for their child. There are no eligibility requirements for Operation Red Light; it is open to any Lebanon child.

“We cannot thank the community enough for their support to allow us to do programs like this. It is the best feeling seeing the kids so happy to receive a toy, or a new coat. We are very fortunate to live in such a great community,” Chief Samantha Cole added.

The rescue department continues to collect new, unwrapped toys for Operation Santa through December 24 and new or used coats, snow pants, snow suits, hats and gloves through December 31 for the Coats for Kids campaign. There are three drop-off locations, including Kenney Automotive located at the corner of Little River Road and Carl Broggi Highway, at Train’s Quick Stop located at 245 Carl Broggi Highway and a large blue donation box at the rescue station located at 1524 Carl Broggi Highway. Additionally, monetary donations are needed to buy gifts and coats. You can make a secure online donation by clicking on the picture of Santa at or by sending a donation to Lebanon Rescue, 323 Depot Road, Lebanon, Maine 04027.

Anyone with questions can contact Chief Samantha Cole at (207) 608-5615.