A winter wonderland tour featuring vintage displays, decorated theme trees and the message at the heart of Christmas awaits visitors at the HIStory of Christmas program being held at Evangelical Lutheran Church in Duncansville.
It will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. today, Saturday, and Dec. 2 and 3; and 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 4.
The Rev. Jaime Olson, pastor of Evangelical Lutheran, said the walking tour combines the story of the birth of Jesus with the traditions and history of Christmas.
(Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski) 'Blue Christmas' is among the displays at the HIStory of Christmas tour at Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1200 Fourth Ave., Duncansville.
A collector of Christmas memorabilia, he was inspired to develop the event last year.
"It comes out of my own memories as a child, coming to Altoona, seeing the displays," Olson said. "My desire is to want to share what I've been collecting all these years."
The displays incorporate antiques and collectibles from other people, as well.
If you go
What: HIStory of Christmas
When: 6 to 8 p.m. today, Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3 and 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 4
Where: Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1200 Fourth Ave., Duncansville
Cost: Monetary or nonperishable food item donations will benefit the Brian Morden Foundation and local food banks
One of the many displays, "I'll Have a Blue Christmas Without You" features three mechanical dolls decked out in blue and silver. A male and female doll portray a couple, and a second male doll stands by himself.
"It's the one guy lamenting that he's not getting the girl," Olson said.
The tour will include three major scenes associated with the story of Christ's birth: shepherds in the field, the manger and King Herod and the wise men.
A star on top of the church bell tower proclaims the message, "Follow His star to the story of Christmas."
Other attractions include Nativities from around the world, toy trains and village scenes and storefronts with toys and dolls representing different eras.
The tour concludes with a Christmas market with gingerbread, cookies and paper stars that tie in with the "Follow His Star" theme for sale.
The tour is free but visitors are asked to bring a nonperishable food item or monetary donation.
Proceeds, including sales at the Christmas market, will go to the Brian Morden Foundation and local food banks.
The foundation was created to honor Brian Morden, who died at age 19 from Ewing's Sarcoma. The foundation provides funding for Ewing's Sarcoma and childhood cancer research.
"We [Evangelical Lutheran] do not want to make any money on this," Olson said. "We split the money between the two groups."
Cindy Blontz, who helped with last year's program, painted scenery this year.
"It's a wonderful, wonderful two weekends here at the church," she said. "It takes you back to old-time Christmas. It's just absolutely beautiful."
Barbara Piper will portray a Victorian woman preparing for the holiday.
"I go back in time to a parlor in the 1890s," she said. "I speak about things that are unique to that era; how the trees were decorated and traditions that Americans were embracing at that time."
Piper, who had the same role last year, recalled visitors' reactions.
"They loved it, the children especially. The response was wonderful," she said.