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And so the magic has begun

There’s certainly a lot of magic in the air that began with a wonderful world of grateful thanksgiving that morphed into the spirit of Christmas.
And so it has begun – the merry-go-round of Christmas and all the festive excitement it brings.
Ours began last weekend with Sumter Players’ production of “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Rylander Theatre. The traditional holiday musical was the perfect way to welcome Thanksgiving week and say hello to December – a beautiful gift to Americus tied in bright red ribbon and fluffy bows.
Directed by my friend and former colleague Jen O’Rourke assisted by Donna Minch, longtime participants in community theater here, the production was a huge success. I thought it was one of the best the Players have given us.
The Georgia Southwestern State University Chambers Singers as the Macy Chorus directed by Julie Megginson was outstanding. They sang such beloved songs as “Pinecones and Holly Berries,” and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” Their combined voices were joyous and heartwarming and without a doubt pure musical entertainment that really put us in a holiday mood.
Five of us, all family members, attended the Sunday matinee and had great second row center seats – it’s always more fun to share events like this with family and we loved every minute of the musical.
The cast was terrific especially Ray Mannila, who turned in a phenomenal performance as Kris Kringle; and so did Rylie McMath of Schley County who played the role of Susan Walker. A newcomer to the Players’ stage, we applaud her exceptional talent and sure hope we see more of this vivacious 16-year-old in future performances, as well as Jessica Sinclair, another newcomer to the Players’ stage. Others I must mention with loud applause are David Finley – loved him in the role of R.H. Macy playing opposite Jonathan Minich as Mr. Bloomingdale – another talented young performer. The children in the cast were remarkable. I enjoyed seeing Mariana DeTitta, 11, on stage whom I have known since she was an infant. She handled her lines with aplomb.
And we sure must mention Sam Peavy who was a funny tipsy Santa.
The entire production was “extraordinary.” I hope you had a chance to see it.
Also taking place last weekend was the fundraiser hosted the Friends of Jimmy Carter National Historic Site and Second Harvest Food Bank that was a big success, according to Kim Carter Fuller, one of the organizers.
The 17 out-of-town guests, including six from Columbus, Ohio, paid $2,500 each to wine and dine at a vegan dinner with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter in Plains prepared by Michelle Dunn of Atlanta. The main course borlotti (mushrooms), red wine pie and kale mashed potatoes was topped off with Clementine and cranberry ice, buttermilk sherbet and butter pecan ice cream provided by Leopold’s of Savannah. A wine tasting featuring varied wines provided by Wisteria Restaurant and Jason Hill, Atlanta, preceded dinner at the historic Windsor Hotel’s Americus-Sumter Room. Board members from both nonprofits enjoyed the evening as well as Sharad Patel, Jana Carter, Cameron Carter, and Bill and Charlene McGowan.
Meanwhile congratulations to Bill Harris Sr. who celebrates his 80th birthday today surrounded by his family and a coterie of friends. Reid Shivers, son of Aaron and Brook Shivers, celebrated his first birthday last Saturday at a festive party. Smile and say hello to Stacey Case Stout, our daughter of Phoenix, Arizona, and nieces Ashley and Lindsey Bosza of Charlotte, North Carolina, my grandson Beau Barrett is here from Bluffton, South Carolina, and others I know home for Thanksgiving are Christine Argo of Atlanta, Page and Thomas Lynn and toddler son, Thomas Lynn of Statesboro, David and Michelle Duke and toddler son, David Lewis Duke of Dallas, Texas, Stephanie Jones of Atlanta, Derek and Sara Beth Wolcott and children Maddie and Thomas, Mary Frances Thomas, Athan Cheokas, Lexi Cheokas and scores of others are here visiting family and friends.
Don’t forget today is Small Business Saturday and the gallery opening of the Mobile Glassblowing Studios on West Forsyth Street where you will find a little magic created by glass artists Chuck Wells and Phil Vinson and welcomed by Jennifer Wells.

-Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus