Greater Morristown weekend preview: Choirs and Nutcrackers, Gingerbread and Jazzbos

Compiled by Kevin Coughlin

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (we’ll explain “records” later), this may be Greater Morristown’s busiest entertainment weekend.

Until next weekend, anyway.

For your holiday pleasure, you can enjoy the Morris Choral Society. And a “Jazz Nativity” extravaganza. Marvel at ingenious gingerbread houses. Browse a plethora of holiday craft shows and sales. Introduce the kiddies to the Nutcracker. Deliver your wish list to Santa. Take a choo-choo ride around the Green.

Need a break from holiday mode?  Take an art walk. Or get some group therapy for your Downton Abbey addiction.

The possibilities are endless. Don’t believe it?

Check our handy calendar.   You’ll see.

THURSDAY, DEC. 12, 2013:

The Gramercy Brass Jazz Quintet

The Gramercy Brass Jazz Quintet

Music at Noon features the Gramercy Brass Quintet at the Morristown United Methodist Church, at 50 Park Place. Admission is free, and lunch is available for purchase before and after the 30-minute concert.

Has it really been almost a year since Matthew bought the farm on Downton Abbey? How will Lady Mary and her son carry on when Season Four washes ashore on PBS next month?  If these questions are important to you, you need to visit the Downton Abbey Support Group at 7 pm in the Morristown & Township Library. Admission is free. Tea and scones will be served; period costumes are welcome. The library is at One Miller Road in Morristown.


Gingerbread house at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum.

Gingerbread house at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum.

The Gingerbread Wonderland and Craft Show runs from 10 am to 8 pm at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township, and continues on Saturday and Sunday. All manner of edible structures–some 200 of them– are on display. Past scenes have included Harry Potter, Santa’s Workshop, a grand piano, and the White House. A $2 suggested donation, $1 for students and seniors,  supports the Horticultural Educational Department. The craft show runs on the weekend.

At noon, enjoy holiday music at the Morris Museum in Morris Township, courtesy of the choir from the Winston School of Short Hills. The performance is free of charge, in the museum’s pavilion. The museum is at 6 Normandy Heights Road.

Doreen Kassel's distinctive creations are featured at Holiday CraftMorristown.

Doreen Kassel’s distinctive creations are featured at Holiday CraftMorristown.

Holiday CraftMorristown starts its weekend run at the Morristown Armory on Western Avenue in Morris Township from 4 pm to 8 pm. Now in its 23rd year at the Armory, the juried show features 165 artisans from across the country. Many one-of-a-kind and limited edition items are promised, ranging from jewelry and ceramics to furniture to delicate holiday ornaments to specialty foods. General admission is $9, seniors are $8 and under 16 are free (unlimited re-entry).  Also from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday. Call 845-331-7900 for more details.

Art Around the Park is back, with exhibits open from 5 pm to 8 pm at eight venues within easy walking distance in Morristown. The Gallery at 14 Maple features sculptor Willie Cole, painter Kiyomi Baird and digital artist Wayne Charles Roth. Kiyomi and Wayne will be on hand to discuss their work. Macyn Bolt has a 10-year retrospective at Citibank (30 W. Park Place), Fox Rothschild LLP (15 Maple Ave.), Hyatt Morristown’s Eclectic Grill (3 Speedwell Ave.), J&K Steakhouse (56B South St.) and Sweet Lucy’s Bakery (56A South St.) The Simon Gallery (48 Bank St.) presents Dragana Crnjak. And the Atrium Gallery (10 Court St.) features Karen Lundquist, Marsha Solomon, Rebecca Zagoory and Suprina.

art around the park dec 2013

The ever-popular 85-voice Morris Choral Society begins its season with a milestone Holiday Spectacular–the 10th one–at the Bickford Theatre in Morris Township at 8 pm. Led by Wayne Walters, the choir will perform show-stoppers and holiday favorites from Broadway musicals and Hollywood blockbusters. Guest artists will include the Christmas Singers, a popular quartet at Morristown’s Music at Noon series that includes Wayne; and the Express Male sextet. The program will span the gamut from such beloved Yule favorites as Jingle Bell Rock to the bemused O Little Town of Hackensack by Professor Peter Schickele. The Bickford is part of the Morris Museum, at 6 Normandy Place. Tickets are available at the box office (973-971-3706) at $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $15 for children under 18. For more information, call 973-998-7239. If you can’t make it on Friday, the Morris Choral Society gives an encore performance on Sunday at 3 pm.

The Morris Choral Society performs its Holiday Spectacular at the Bickford Theatre. Photo by Rebecca Beneroff

The Morris Choral Society performs its Holiday Spectacular at the Bickford Theatre. Photo by Rebecca Beneroff

It’s time for the monthly open stage at The Minstrel in Morris Township. Come out at 8 pm to encourage first-time performers, or polish your own acoustic act. Although all the reserved slots are taken, if you arrive by 7:45 pm you have a better-than-even shot at landing an unreserved 15-minute slot via a lottery, according to program chairman Mike Agranoff.  The Minstrel is at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, at 21 Normandy Heights Road.


The Christmas Festival at the Morristown Green–marking 100 years of celebrating the holiday on the historic square–resumes from 9 am to noon with Santa visits and photos. Electric train rides roll from 10 am to 3 pm. Craft activities hosted by the Macculloch Hall Historical Museum are set for 10 am to noon. And gingerbread house-making will occur from 1 pm to 3 pm. The festival is coordinated by the Morristown Partnership.


What the heck is a parklet?  And how will it boost business in downtown Morristown? Find out from 9 am to 3 pm, at 18 North Park Place, near the Morristown Green. Beyond the Curb: Morristown Parklets is being hosted by Together North Jersey, a partnership based at Rutgers. The Town of Morristown, Sustainable Morristown and Morris Arts also will participate in this session. Public input will be solicited. Light refreshments will be served.

Holiday CraftMorristown continues at the Armory in Morris Township from 10 am to 6 pm. See Friday entry for more information.

The Gingerbread Wonderland and Craft Show continues at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township from 10 am to 5 pm. See Friday entry for more details.

africa surgery christmas market charityThe New Jersey Ballet brings the Nutcracker back to the Mayo Performing Arts Center–with a full orchestra–at 1 pm. Tickets: $29-59. At 100 South St., Morristown. Call 973-539-8008.  Check our calendar for more dates–Nutcracker has an extended run once again this holiday season.

The fourth annual Christmas Market at Morristown’s Assumption Church runs from 2 pm to 7 pm, and again on Sunday from 7 am to 7 pm. Christmas ornaments, fine photography items by Sergio Burani, watercolors, hand-knitted woolen hats, gifts, fashion accessories, jewelry and gourmet foods are among items for sale. Proceeds benefit Africa Surgery Inc., providing medical care for victims in war-torn Sierra Leone. The church is at 91 Maple Ave. Call 973-452-1908 or email for more details.

A Christmas Memory, calvary baptist church posterCitizens will mark the one-year anniversary of the Newtown, CT., school massacre with a 4 pm program at Morrisown’s Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, at 36 South St. Speakers will include elected officials and parents who lost a son to gun violence. A candlelight vigil is scheduled as well. “Every town is Newtown” is open to all.

The Worship Arts Ministry of Morristown’s Calvary Baptist Church presents A Christmas Memory, A Story of Faith and Hope, directed by the Rev. Torina Armstrong, at 6:30 pm. Seating starts at 6 pm. All are welcome. The church is on 10 Martin Luther King Ave. For more details call 973-267-0136.



The Christmas Market will offer many original gift items, from 7 am to 7 pm at Morristown’s Assumption Church. See Saturday entry for more details.

What is the true meaning of Christmas?  The Rev. Jerry Carter will tackle that one at Morristown’s Calvary Baptist Church, at 7:45 am and 10:45 am, in sermons entitled, Promises, Promises: Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in the Birth of Christ.  The church is at 10 Martin Luther King Ave.

The Gingerbread Wonderland and Craft Show concludes at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township from 10 am to 5 pm. See Friday entry for more details.

Holiday CraftMorristown concludes at the Armory in Morris Township from 11 am to 5 pm. See Friday entry for more information.

Wayne Walters, director of the Morris Choral Society. Photo courtesy of the society.

Wayne Walters, director of the Morris Choral Society. Photo courtesy of the society.

The Christmas Festival at the Morristown Green continues with activities from noon to 7 pm. Santa visits and photos are scheduled from noon to 3 pm and 4 pm to 7 pm. An electric choo-choo chugs around the square from 1 pm to 7 pm. The Mayo Performing Arts Company will perform traditional and Broadway holiday favorites for an hour at 1 pm. Ornament coloring crafts follow from 2 pm to 5 pm. A holiday gift shop is open for business from 4 pm to 7 pm.

The Morris Choral Society’s Holiday Spectacular, Christmas: Broadway to Hollywood, will fill Morris Township’s Bickford Theatre with musical merriment at 3 pm. See Friday entry for details.

Bending Towards the Light, Jazz Nativity, presbyterian church, morristown, december 2013If your tastes tend towards jazz, the Presbyterian Church of Morristown is serving a tasty treat at 6 pm. Bending Towards the Light, A Jazz Nativity will meld jazzy renditions of Yule carols by top area jazz musicians with performances by actors and 60 choristers from the church. There will be tap dancing, too. Admission is free; goodwill donations are welcome. Since its premiere in the 1980s, A Jazz Nativity has become a favorite at BB King’s in New York and other jazz meccas.  Matt Webb, music director for the church, will conduct this performance. The church faces the historic Morristown Green on 57 East Park Place.

A few miles away, the Presbyterian Church in Morris Plains presents its Christmas concert at 7 pm, featuring the Walsh and Grazio bell choirs, the Chancel Choir and the Praise Band. The concert and reception are free, at 400 Speedwell Ave.

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