Artistic twist on giving

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WAYNESBURG – Fire barrels on street corners, horse-drawn carriages and smells of roasted Bavarian nuts waft through the crisp evening breeze. The sounds of a bell choir echo against the courthouse, bringing sounds of the season while families seated in a courtyard await a night of outdoor theater.


All are the experiences one will encounter attending the fifth annual Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful Holiday Open House Nov. 30 along Waynesburg’s High Street.


The open house, sponsored by Consol Energy, is a kickoff to the holiday season for the downtown business community with old-fashioned sidewalk sales to put patrons in the gift-giving mood. Everything from stained glass creations to musical instruments can be plucked from Waynesburg businesses to place under one’s tree.


“It is so rare to see a community coming together like that at any time to demonstrate the sense of community that they have in that area,” said Laural Ziemba, director of community relations for Consol Energy. “I am on the board of the Community Foundation and I know how successful this event is year after year.”


Ziemba said it is commonplace to hear people talking about going to large events like Pittsburgh’s First Night and light-up nights but it is rarer to hear them speak of small town events, such as the holiday open house.


“It is encouraging to see and we are certainly glad to be a part of it,” Ziemba said. “We hope to see it get bigger and bigger each year.”


The Flix on Brix component of the open house will take guests to 1800s England as the original Ebeneezer Scrooge, actor Reginal Owen, transcends time with the classic tale of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”


In the spirit of giving, embraced by Scrooge by films end, a Consol Energy project to benefit Corner Cupboard Food Bank will bring together local artists who will use canned goods and nonperishable food items to create works of art.


“The ‘Can’struction Project offers the entire creative and artistic community a chance not only to contribute, but also to utilize its competitive skills to excel in an event whose visibility and public spirit generates significant good will,” said Kyle Kooyers, Greene County Vista volunteer and organizer of the project in Greene County.


Of the Canstruction Project, Ziemba called it an extension of Consol’s ongoing support of the food bank.


“This was a way to engage the community and businesses in a different way than we had historically,” Ziemba said, noting food drives held in previous years by Consol Energy.


Canstruction art is constructed by stacking food cans in a way that the colors of the food labels substitute for color traditionally created by paint, pastels, etc. The artwork can be three-dimensional or created in a mural style.


Artists will have 12 hours to sculpt artwork. Pieces will be displayed the week before and after the open house. At the end of the display period, Canstruction art will be deconstructed with food items going to Corner Cupboard Food Bank for distribution.


The works will be displayed at various locations inside downtown businesses and a gallery map will be distributed for the public to locate and view the work, enabling them to participate in voting for the “people’s choice” favorite Canstruction piece.


A popular free feature is retuning. A caricature artist will capture the moment for children and adults. Pictures with Santa on the courthouse steps will be another way to save the memory of the event.


Strolling musicians and carolers are invited to join the Waynesburg University art department as they provide entertainment at intervals along High Street. To help take off the chill as one takes in these sights and sounds of the season, cocoa, coffee and apple cider will be available.


As has become a tradition of the holiday open house, various charitable organizations will share the streets with the sidewalk sales, entertainment and food vendors. Greene County Humane Society will offer cotton candy and its holiday calendars for purchase. The Boy Scouts, area churches and the Salvation Army will be there as well.


“It really is like stepping back in time. I can’t tell you how many people who grew up here have come up to us and said they can remember coming to town with their parents and this is like it used to be every Friday night,” said open house committee member, Melody Longstreth. “It has taken on a life of its own. We really had no idea how successful it would become. It has blown all of our minds and that’s a good thing.”


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