An aroma of hot chocolate filled the air Friday night during the fourth annual Winter Celebration at The Arboretum at Penn State.
The State College High School Chamber Singers, an a cappella group, performed for the first time at the celebration, and the group’s director, Erik Clayton, was happy to be a part of the event.
“It was really nice. The Arboretum is a favorite place for me to bring my family anyway, and it’s such a wonderful thing that Penn State provides for all of us to enjoy during the year, and for them to do a winter event like this is really great,” Clayton said.
The Pennharmonics, a Penn State a cappella group, also performed during the festivities. In addition to the holiday music, many attendees enjoyed the seasonal decorations, such as the decorated tree in the Arboretum’s Glass House. The decorations came from various community groups and organizations, including local scout groups.
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People also lined up to get their picture taken with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Brian Kolar and his 3-year-old grandson were among those who gathered around for a photo. Kolar said it was their first time attending the Winter Celebration.
“It’s nice to give him that opportunity, which you can’t really get anywhere else,” Kolar said.
Shari Edelson, the director of horticulture and curator at The Arboretum at Penn State, said the celebration has grown tremendously over the years after an early brainstorming session to find a way to connect the community.
“The first year we basically, at the very last minute, asked some students to sing and we printed out sing-a-long sheets for people. We didn’t have microphones or anything,” Edelson said. “We all just gathered at the pavilion and thought, ‘Who knows who will even show up?’ Then hundreds of people came. We didn’t advertise it at all.
“That was our first hint that if we made it bigger there would probably be a bunch more people who would enjoy being a part of it.”
Edelson said last year’s celebration drew about 2,000 people during a snow storm. Edelson added that preparations for the celebrations begin as early as September.
Bret Pallotto: 814-231-4648