Hol­i­day cheer!

Ven­dors, shops of­fer a lit­tle Christ­mas spirit

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - BY AMANDA CHRISTMAN STAFF WRITER

Crisp, cool weather didn’t stop peo­ple from en­joy­ing First Fri­day in down­town Ha­zle­ton.

Christ­mas shop­pers could sam­ple good­ies and drinks as they bought from ven­dors selling unique hand made gifts while walk­ing along Broad Street, stop­ping by busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions par­tic­i­pat­ing in the third Was­sail­fest and Hol­i­day Night Mar­ket. A to­tal of 14 down­town busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions hosted more than 30 ven­dors selling goods.

It was the first time Paula Scat­ton and Holly Ciotola, both of Ha­zle­ton, and Judy Phillips of Drums at­tended the event. They made a girls night of the event, start­ing as soon as it opened at 4 p.m. Scat­ton placed a bid on an Ea­gles foot­ball wreath that was on dis­play, hop­ing to take it home. The wreaths were on ex­hibit but were also part of a silent auc­tion at the fu­ture site of City Arts Cen­ter, 31 W. Broad St., which is un­der ren­o­va­tion. Lo­cal de­sign­ers, fam­i­lies, busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions cre­ated more than 30 wreaths for the dis­play and auc­tion.

“I hope no one bids higher than I did,” Scat­ton said.

Mike Corb of Hob­bie joined his wife, Pat, at a ven­dor stand selling Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions. Among them were items they col­lected over the years and de­tailed wooden stat­ues of Santa Claus that Mike hand carved metic­u­lously. John Skuza of Ha­zle­ton was also selling wooden dec­o­ra­tions he made, like rein­deer and snow­man and hand carved spoons — gifts he said would be per­fect for any­one, in­clud­ing the hard-to-buy-for per­son.

He said for as nice as it was to have peo­ple ad­mire his work, it was equally plea­sur­able mak­ing them.

“I just find it fun,” he said. Ber­na­dine Car­madella could be found her near pearl wreath, which took her about eight hours to cre­ate but even longer to col­lect ma­te­ri­als for. The wreath was made with pearl neck­laces, bracelets and brooches. Once she col­lected the jew­elry she be­gan adding them to the wreath.

“You just keep piec­ing it to­gether un­til it evolves,” she said as a group of her friends joined her side, plan­ning to visit the many at­trac­tions of Was­sail­fest.

A lo­cal band, Wells River and the Beards, played at Pines Eatery & Spir­its, 8 W. Broad St., where those who went was­sail­ing could sam­ple home­made ap­ple crisp and spiced rum punch.

Folks could find out a lit­tle more about how Christ­mas is cel­e­brated in the Caribbean, where Puerto Ri­can and Do­mini­can tra­di­tions were shared.

“We’ve got em­panadas, pina co­ladas, co­quito,” Fer­min Diaz said as he went down the long menu cre­ated by the So­ci­ety of His­panic Pro­fes­sion­als of the Ha­zle­ton Area, Do­mini­can House and Greater Ha­zle­ton His­panic Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion. They also served roasted pork, Caribbean-style tur­key and tra­di­tional desserts.

Diaz said a lot of food in the Caribbean is fresh. Many dishes are mar­i­nated the day be­fore they are cooked too. With more Catholics in the trop­i­cal ar­eas, Christ­mas Eve and the Feast of the Three Kings in Jan­uary is cel­e­brated by fam­i­lies vis­it­ing each other from dif­fer­ent towns to share in a meal, Eddy Ule­rio said. The Three Kings are a big­ger deal than Santa Claus for chil­dren there, too.

Yudelka Adames could be found at the Do­mini­can House on Broad Street, where chil­dren could take a paint­ing class and par­take in some hot cho­co­late and snacks.

In­side the Shop 2, owner Carmine Par­la­tore of­fered cran­berry punch to vis­i­tors look­ing at the an­tiques in her store. Par­la­tore said she dec­o­rated the shop in a vin­tage theme that she hoped made peo­ple think of Christ­mas at their grand­par­ents’ homes.

She also had Sweets by Denise of Ha­zle­ton selling good­ies and Daria As­torino of Bat­ter, a gluten-free com­pany in Harrisburg, selling baked goods. As­torino grew up in the Ha­zle­ton area and came home for First Fri­day.

Not far west of her Broad Street shop, the Sage Ex­change of­fered home­made cin­na­mon bread pud­ding and hot but­tered rum made by owner Ta­mara Her­sh­berger.

Brian Riedel Pho­tog­ra­phy was in­side her shop selling Christ­mas photo ses­sions, along with a Christ­mas-themed photo booth folks could take ad­van­tage of. Hand­made and cre­ative gift ideas like cro­cheted fab­rics were also for sale in­side.

Events were held at other lo­ca­tions too.

“Very well done,” said Tammy On­deck of the event while tak­ing in the wreath dis­play.

The Ha­zle­ton res­i­dent was hop­ing to get to all the many stops be­fore the night was through.

Mike Corb of Hob­bie was selling Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions he has col­lected over the years, as well as his hand carved San­tas.

AMANDA CHRISTMAN / STAFF PHOTO

Hand­made wreaths are on dis­play, and avail­able via silent auc­tion, dur­ing First Fri­day fes­tiv­i­ties in Ha­zle­ton on Fri­day.

AMANDA CHRISTMAN / STAFF PHOTO

Food and desserts from the Caribbean were of­fered at 2 W. Broad St. by the So­ci­ety of His­panic Pro­fes­sion­als of the Ha­zle­ton Area, Greater Ha­zle­ton His­panic Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion and Do­mini­can House.

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