2012 Holiday Open House

Article by Dianne Borovies.

Reprinted with permission of The Valley Voice - Saucon Valley’s Weekly Newspaper,

December 21, 2012 Edition

Mill Open house Had something Festive For All - The Open House at the Heller-Wagner Grist Mill was a festive evening which found guests enjoying various decorated venues of the Grist Mill complex. Wreaths, candles, pine swags, paths lined with luminaries, lighted trees and an illuminated Pony Bridge welcomed guests.

Santa’s sleigh was parked at the entrance to the Tavern Room. Groups toured the Mill Museum. In the Miller House, folks admired the beautiful and intricate Roger Shaffer scale models of Hellertown landmarks. They also visited the vintage train display.

The Tavern Room was the main hub of socializing with guests mingling and catching up with old friends and enjoying refreshments. Others claimed a seat in the Tavern Room to enjoy the music and dance performances of Norris and James and The Gilbert Family, members of the Lehigh Valley Idols. Audience members sang along on “White Christmas” and “Silent Night”.

Another highlight was the raffle drawing for artist Joe Sofka’s watercolor painting of the Grist Mill buildings and grounds. The winner of this framed painting was Jim Luchetta of Hellertown, and was accepted by his Mother-in-law, Pearl Stork. A drawing for prizes for those who were in attendance followed. Catherine Doll of Hellertown was the delighted winner of the first signed and numbered reprint of Mr. Sofka’s watercolor painting. Charmaine Fegley of Hellertown won a mousepad featuring a likeness of the painting. Doris Grimes, also of Hellertown, won two tickets offered by the entertainers to one of their upcoming shows.

Society President, Earl Hill and Secretary, Erika Hill, were each thanked by Society members for their service to the Organization. They were presented with the number two signed and numbered reprinted Joe Sofka painting.

Something Old and Something New - Train Display and Visits with Santa - The flyer for the upcoming Holiday events at HHS declared, “The Trains Are Back!” and “Visits With Santa”. After a respite of almost a decade, HHS members William Frey and Fran Hudock set up the 144 sq.ft. model train display in the basement of the Miller House. The display included some vintage buildings over 100 years old and two of the late HHS member, Roger Shaffer’s incredible handmade scale model structures of Hellertown landmarks - the Reading Train Station/Depot and Hellertown’s Masonic Lodge. It is estimated that over 400 folks of all ages visited the trains and magical miniature village and farm scene. Chief Engineer Bill Frey, manned most of the weekend hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas with assistance from Fran Hudock and Dick Eckert. Comments from the younger visitors included “It was awesome!”, “I liked it!” “I like the train with the candy canes best!” Numerous requests for the train display to return again in 2013 will be honored. Several new members are eager to help expand and enhance the display for 2013. Thank you Bill, Fran and Dick, as well as everyone who helped spread the word.

Santa and His Antique Sleigh - Santa visited the Mill on Sunday, December 16. With “elf help” from Cadette Girl Scout Troop 8030 and a cadre of Society Members, Santa’s visit with over 70 children, several adults and one photogenic puppy were photographed. Scouts escorted visitors to the Train Display and back again to the Tavern Room for light refreshments. Smiles were the order of the day; it was impossible to find anyone NOT smiling. Our visitors have already expressed hope that Santa and his sleigh will return again next Christmas.

A Very Busy Holiday - It was a busy Holiday Season for the Society; just over 900 persons visited our site between Thanksgiving and the end of December. Many of these folks had never been inside our buildings before. More than once, we heard “I never knew this was here!” In addition to the activities, several people stopped to visit after noticing all the Holiday decorations and activity. These visits resulted in several new bookings for our Tavern Room facility and also new memberships.


A Photo Gallery of the 2012 Holiday Events may be viewed below...

Special thanks Jan Doddy, of Doddy Photography, for donating his services for these events.

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