The Mountain Times

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Christmas celebrations begin in earnest this weekend

RUTLAND-Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, the region will be hosting Christmas celebrations of every variety for the next month. This weekend, Rutland will be the place to be for the start of holiday festivities.

On Friday, The New York Theatre Ballet will present the classic The Nutcracker at the Paramount Theater. The production company is the most seen chamber ballet group in America and they have been touring for 34 years. Their mission is to provide a variety of shows for adults and children all at affordable prices. The have had enormous success, selling out venues in New York and New Jersey regularly.

Vermont is fortunate to have such an acclaimed and professional group perform in Rutland. The Nutcracker, of course, is an annual favorite during the holidays. With the famous score by Tchaikovsky and the whimsical story of Clara and her adventures with the mouse king, it is no wonder the ballet has been performed since 1892.

On Saturday, the Paramount Theater will host its most important fundraiser of the season: The Festival of Trees. At this annual tradition guests are invited to bid on donated items. The theater has considerable operating costs that cannot be covered by ticket sales alone and it relies on community support like this to survive. Starting at 6 p.m., there will be food catered by a local restaurant and a cash bar. Then, attendees are invited into the theatre to take part in the live auction. Everything from sports memorabilia to exotic vacations have been auctioned. Some items go for less than $50 while others will go for several thousand dollars. There are more than 100 items to bid on this year.  The Festival of Trees auction has earned the Paramount Theater over $50,000 in previous years.

Also on Saturday, the Chaffee Art Center invites you to their Winter All Member Show. The show is on display Nov. 16 to Jan. 31, but this Saturday there is a special reception from 5-7 p.m.

In a town with a rich railroad history like Rutland, a Christmas themed train ride seems apropos. The Santa Train and it will be departing the Amtrak station in downtown Rutland at five different times on Saturday. Climb aboard at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. or 5 p.m. The 45 minute journey takes passengers through a Christmas themed landscape and to Santa's workshop and an opportunity to drop a letter off at the North Pole. Entertainment and refreshments will be on board as well. This unique adventure promises to delight anyone with the holiday spirit.

This time of year, Rutland provides a spirited mix of shopping, entertainment and dining. The large Christmas tree at Depot Park is lit and decorations are abundant everywhere you look. Celebrations begin in earnest this weekend.