New December to Remember features holiday events, contest

Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts’ annual New Year’s Eve celebration, First Night State College, was canceled this year, but a weekslong, socially-distanced and partially virtual event will take its place.

Rick Bryant, executive director for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, said the organization’s board decided in September to approach the New Year’s Eve festivities from a different angle, making use of their various assets to support artists and spread holiday cheer throughout the month of December.

December to Remember includes a range of events and activities, including streamed performances, an online artists’ marketplace featuring more than 240 artists from around the country and the Puttin’ on the Glitz home decorating contest.

“I’ve never met a person who doesn’t enjoy looking at someone else’s holiday decorations, from the very tasteful candles in the window with a drift of white lights, to someone who has thousands of those blow up things in their yard,” Bryant said with a laugh. “People like putting them up and sharing them and people like driving around and looking at them — and it’s something you can do socially distanced. You’re in your car with the heater on, driving around. It’s a way the whole county can participate, really.”

The contest is open to all residential properties in Centre County, from single-family homes to apartment balconies. Decorations must be visible from the street or sidewalk. The deadline to enter the contest is Friday, with an entry fee of $10 for single residences and $20 for a group of homes (adjoining properties are eligible for entry).

Following the entry deadline, a panel of judges will take the next week to visit each property before awarding prizes in two categories: traditional and contemporary decorations. In addition to winners, runners up and honorable mentions, prizes will be awarded for Best Use of Color, Best Use of Technology, Best Use of Traditional Materials and Overall Wow Factor.

Winners will be announced Dec. 18 and judges include Keith Bierly, owner of Forefathers Book Shop; Rebecca Inlow, board member at Rowland Theatre; Centre County President Judge Pamela Ruest; Fritz Smith, president and CEO of the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau; and Mary Sorenson, executive director at the Centre County Historical Society.

Bryant offered advice for those considering entering the contest: “Less is a bore.”

“This is not the time for minimalism. Maximalism is the name of the game. Even if you’re in the traditional category, there’s that florist’s motto of ‘it’s not done until it’s overdone,’ ” he said.

For those more interested in spectating than decorating, the contest’s entrants will be published on the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts website, to give everyone a chance to pick their favorites around Centre County.

Additionally, for those who want to get creative, but with a little less of a time-consuming project, December to Remember channels the summertime Arts Fest tradition of making friendship bracelets, with some similar at-home fun.

People are invited to make paper snowflakes and mail them in; after the event is over, a sculpture will be created in the atrium of the State College Municipal building, Bryant said.

“A paper snowflake is as unique as the person who made it, so it’s a way to celebrate the winter and our diversity at the same time — and it has a very low barrier to entry,” Bryant said. “What do you need? Scissors and a piece of paper.”

Visit to learn more about December to Remember and all of the included events, as well as to enter the Puttin’ on the Glitz home decorating contest.

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