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ArtsMinded column: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Good grief, the snow is here! But lots of holiday stuff to do is right here in River Falls without much driving (and not to leave our close neighbors out, Hudson too). Below are closeby ideas for celebrating the holiday — and for your Christmas purchases too:

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The River Falls Community Theatre production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" continues at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 and 7 at the Unitarian Universalist Society of River Falls (N8010 Highway 65). The society takes pride (and a little amusement) in hosting the production. Take it from those of us who saw it last week with a packed house, it is wonderfully produced and highly amusing. The children were amazing actors (the adults did their part too!)

Just a suggestion for across the river: The Children's Theatre Company production of the classic transformation of Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is wonderful and worth the trip (expensive too!)

Dennis Cooper and the Roqonteurs have a couple dates coming up:

• 2:30-3 p.m. Dec. 6 at the River Falls Public Library Holiday Open House. Dennis will be one of several musicians playing throughout the day, so come on down, check out a book!

• 7-10 p.m. Dec. 28: Roqonteurs Band Show and Dance at Junior's Restaurant and Tap House in River Falls. Three hours of the most musical fun allowed by Wisconsin law. The band will rock the house with great songs from the 50's, 60's, and beyond: rock, blues, While you groove to the tunes, you can enjoy the restaurant's beverage and food offerings.

Color Crossing (the Roberts source for fiber experience) is undergoing great change; meanwhile it continues to be open on Wednesdays, selling yarn during the redo at greatly reduced prices. They offer all the lessons and convivial needle time with the most convivial needle workers you could want. See Color Crossing class schedule online for more opportunities (including weaving classes).

Phipps Center for the Arts:

• "Bah, Humbug: Scrooge's Christmas Carol," Children's Theatre Production, at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 and 14 ; 1 and 4 p.m. Dec. 8 and 15; 2 p.m. Dec. 9 and 16. Check ThePhipps.org for detailed information.

• Vocalists Wayne Luchau, Colleen Raye, and Debbie O'Keefe along with the Echoes Rock and Roll Band will perform "That'll be the Day: The Music of Roy Orbison, Linda Ronstadt and Gene Pitney" on New Year's Eve, Monday, Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. A performance has been added on Sunday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. to accommodate the demand. Call 715-386-2305 for tickets.

UWRF music and other events:

• Holiday Christmas Concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, University Symphony Bands, University Center, tickets at the door.

• Coffee Concert, "Holiday in Sound," at noon on Dec. 7, Blanche Davis Theatre, KFA, free.

• 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, Holiday Swing Dance, University Center

Dec. 7, Orange Dragon Art Gallery Holiday Reception and exhibit, 122 Orange St., Prescott (where the stolen Dale Lewis dragon has returned!)

Coming in the New Year: "Soup, Salad and Science," River Falls Public Library, programs that will stretch the imagination at the "fascinating juncture of arts and science," Feb. 21, March 21 and April 18.

Great Christmas gifts

• See Margy Jane Balwierz's website for photos of her beautiful handmade tiles and how to get them.

• Don't forget Seasons on St. Croix on Main Street in Hudson (as well as the shop in the Phipps) for more gifts "from the hand."

• If I'm not badly mistaken, the art gallery in the UWRF Kleinpell Fine Arts Building has wonderful potential Christmas gifts by talented art students.

• And of course, Arts House right here in River Falls on Maple Street has fine arts gifts by local artists! Or stop in just to see some of the art done by artists in our area.

In this era of uncertainty and at this darkest time of the year it seems appropriate to remember cartoonist Walt Kelly and his parody of "Deck the Halls":

Deck us all with Boston Charlie

Walla, Walla Wash and Kalamazoo

Nora's freezing on the Trolley,

Swallow dollar, cauliflower, allagaroo!

For more, go online and check out the recently published compendium of Kelly's years of cartooning with Pogo Possum and his Okefenokee Swamp friends.

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