Fun with Mario Bros.

NorthPark Com­mu­nity Church holds fifth an­nual Christmas Cafe event

The Signal - - Holiday Worship - By Ryan Mancini Sig­nal Staff Writer

NorthPark Com­mu­nity Church opened its doors for fam­i­lies across Santa Clarita to join its fifth an­nual Christmas Cafe on Sun­day.

At­ten­dees walked to the sec­ond floor of the church, where home­made ap­pe­tiz­ers, desserts and hot choco­late were offered and presented by Stephen Pe­tree and Tommy Snider, dressed as the video game char­ac­ters Mario and Luigi. Be­tween their comedic in­ter­ac­tions, they presented mul­ti­ple mu­si­cians af­fil­i­ated with the church be­fore their own re­spec­tive per­for­mances.

Mu­si­cians played var­i­ous Christmas songs, both sec­u­lar and more Chris­tian-themed through­out the night.

“We did a big ser­vice New Year’s Eve, and we re­ally tried to blow it out and I didn’t feel com­fort­able do­ing that that close to Christmas,” said Pe­tree, who’s also a mu­sic director at the church.

He be­lieved the show should be more sim­ple, or­ga­niz­ing the event to take place in early De­cem­ber. The set­ting was in­tended to feel more like a cafe than a sanc­tu­ary, Pe­tree said.

Pe­tree then reached out to young mu­sic stu­dents, as well as mu­si­cians he’s worked with be­fore, be­gin­ning with Emily Jaye.

Pe­tree and Jaye toured to­gether years ago work­ing un­der Uni­ver­sal Records, and he invited her to per­form. Shawn Klaiber was Pe­tree’s men­tor, so he was asked to play mu­sic. Clos­ing the show was lo­cal artist De­siree Hope, with whom Pe­tree also has worked, as a pro­ducer.

For Liza Purdy, her first Christmas Cafe left her im­pressed with the va­ri­ety of tal­ent in the area and specif­i­cally at the church. Vis­it­ing with her fam­ily, their life in Santa Clarita be­gan after mov­ing from Pitts­burgh in Jan­uary.

“If we had an event (in Pitts­burgh) it would be like, ‘Oh, OK. That was nice,’” she said. “But this is awe­some, they do such a good job. Every­one’s su­per tal­ented.”

Pe­tree said the plan is to keep go­ing with Christmas Cafes in the years to come.

“As long as peo­ple still love it and make room for (the) com­mu­nity, make room for peo­ple to talk to one an­other, and also we in­vite the whole city, so it’s not just a church thing,” he said.

For more in­for­ma­tion on that and other up­com­ing events, go to northpark.com/#top.

Ryan Mancini/The Sig­nal

“What’s more Christmas than Mario Brothers?” asked Tommy Snider, left, to fel­low pre­sen­ter Stephen Pe­tree dur­ing the fifth an­nual Christmas Cafe at NorthPark Com­mu­nity Church, which took place Sun­day.

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