Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

December 19, 2013

Out & About: Holiday, solstice celebrations

The Andover Townsman

---- — Not so typical `Silent Night’

Dozens of artists will meld their musical styles for this weekend’s return of “Not Your Typical Silent Night” to the Rogers Center for the Arts at Merrimack College in North Andover.

Area artists will join The Choral Majority gospel choir for this contemporary interpretation of the classic Christmas celebration on Sunday, Dec. 22, at 4 p.m.

Produced by the Blue Window Arts Group, “Not Your Typical Silent Night” has sold out the 600-seat Rogers Center at 315 Turnpike St. in past years. Director Eric W. Lindahl says this year’s installment will once again feature a diverse repertoire offering new arrangements.

Lindahl’s wife, singer/actress Robin Allison Lindahl, will be directing children’s choirs in addition to singing some of the show’s highlights, while The Rev. Lyndon Myers of Andover Baptist Church will sing the spiritual, “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” backed by a vocal ensemble.

The program will also feature Boston gospel group Confirmation led by founder/director David Coleman, with first-time featured soloists Bernard Smith of Holyoke and Chantell Cuevas of North Andover joining regulars Gail Dorey of Watertown, Cynthia Faulkner of Lawrence and Ryan Phelps of Bradford. An eight-member horn section helps to close the show with a gospel rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus.

As in past years, every ticket-buyer will receive a button emblazoned with this year’s theme: “Spread Joy.”

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under; lap-sitters are free with a parent. For reservations or information, call the Rogers Center box office at 978-837-5355 or 978-794-3778 or Andover Bookstore at 89R Main St., Andover, at 978-475-0143.

Staging an Outdoor Christmas Pageant

West Parish Church on Reservation Road presents its 35th annual Outdoor Christmas Pageant on Saturday, Dec. 21, at 5 p.m.

The public is invited to join the church for the arrival of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus to the historic West Parish Garden Cemetery arch, which will once again be transformed into the entrance to Bethlehem.

The annual half-hour reenactment of the Christmas story includes a cast of children, youths and adults and a stable of live animals provided by Ironstone and Herb Hill farms.

Through drama, gospel narration and carols, the audience will share in the miracle of Christmas through the reenactment, which will incorporate such modern-day stories as the “Littlest Angel” and the “Little Drummer Boy.” Blake Martin will portray Basil, the innkeeper, and Jim Olson is the narrator.

Refreshments in Fellowship Hall and a chance to photograph the living nativity scene will follow the presentation. The Ministry of Outreach will be accepting nonperishable food items at the archway prior to the pageant for donation to local food pantries.

For more information, call West Parish Church at 978-475-3528 or visit

Ringing in the winter solstice

The Shawsheen River Watershed Association hosts its fourth annual Winter Solstice Celebration on Sunday, Dec. 22, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Serio’s Grove, 47 Lowell Junction Road, Andover.

The group will meet and park in the field starting at 4:30 p.m., and then begin a short, five-minute walk through the woods to the pavilion at 5.

The program will feature a short presentation on the astronomy, history and folklore of the winter solstice, interspersed with entertainment by local musicians. Solstice observers should bring bells to ring as the Holly King Banner is retired and the Oak King Banner is raised to symbolize the time of lengthening days.

A campfire for the roasting of marshmallows for s’mores will follow. Individuals should bring their own supplies and beverages; alcoholic drinks are not allowed. Admission is free; the public is invited.

Bidding farewell to shortest day

Harold Parker State Forest heralds the arrival of the winter solstice on Saturday, Dec. 21, from 3 to 5 p.m. off Route 114 in North Andover.

The celebration timed for sunset at exactly 4:15 p.m. will usher out the shortest day of the year. A short hike prior to the solstice sunset ritual is planned. Individuals are urged to dress warmly, wear hiking footwear or snowshoes or skis, and bring along water. Hot chocolate will be served.

The free event is co-sponsored by the Friends of Harold Parker and the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. For more information, call 617-828-1728 or visit


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