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Slate Valley Museum Holiday open house

GRANVILLE The Slate Valley Museum shares Polish family stories and Christmas traditions at its free annual Holiday Open House on Sunday, December 9, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Along with family displays, the event features traditional Polish food, music, and decorations. "For several years now we have featured the stories and traditions of immigrant families who came to the Slate Valley to work in the slate quarries," says museum Executive Director Mary Lou Willits. "The event has become a staff and community favorite, providing a window into the relevant past of the ethnically diverse slate villages in the region." Museum volunteer Ann Hitchen has been interviewing local families of Polish ancestry and collecting their photographs and heirlooms for the museum's display, which will remain on exhibit through January 5. The roster of family names of those who contributed their stories includes Taran, Tatko,Stokowski, Zolnik, and Zovistoski. According to Willits, one of the highlights among the photographs and materials that surfaced came from Granville native Steve Kuruc, whose Slovak father was an altar boy at All Saints Roman Catholic Church in Granville,where services were conducted in the Polish language. "Not only are there photos of the Polish congregation and confirmation classes in Steve's collection, but photos of the church interior before it burned down in 1940," she reports. "But probably the most exciting item that Steve loaned for the display is the church program for its 25th year anniversary for the years 1909-1926, all in Polish," she says. The 16-page pamphlet includes congratulatory advertisements from local businesses and the names of the church members. While the original program will be displayed under glass,Willits says that photocopies of the pamphlet will be available for visitors to browse. "Ann Hitchen has also organized a feast of traditional Polish foods and American holiday favorites, and an awesome array of Polish-American Christmas decorations, all provided by local Polish families and friends of the museum," says Willits. The Polish tasting includes kielbasa, herring,pierogi, piernik (honey cake), angel wings, and poppy seed rolls. "We could not have produced this event without Ann's energy and the help of volunteers," says Willits. Volunteer Diane Kuruc will perform traditional Polish Christmas music on the keyboard. Educator Garrett Riggs will be teaching youngsters how to make Polish Christmas ornaments from paper and straw, and the museum staff and volunteers will introduce visitors to other Polish Christmas traditions such as passing the Oplatek (wafer), lowering the Podlanznik (an inverted tree top decorated with candy), and preparations for the traditional supper on Christmas Eve that ends the daylong fast of the Polish Wigilia. For more information about the museum's final program of the season, call 518-642-1417, or visit the museum website at www.slatevalleymuseum.org .

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