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Who Doesn’t Love A Perfect Pepper Jelly?

The “pepper jelly ladies” prepare red and green jellies to sell in support of the Riverside Children’s Theatre.

Red Pepper Jelly ‘Heat’ - Purchase the November 2015 issue for full recipe!

Red Pepper Jelly ‘Heat’ - Purchase the November 2015 issue for full recipe!

Participating in events and traditions around the holiday season often evokes a sense of being part of something unique and special, creating bonds for families and communities alike. This year, “Shared Traditions” is the theme of Riverside Children’s Theatre annual fundraiser, the Festival of Trees. This is a family event that kicks off the holiday season with panache. The Festival of Trees has proven to be a perennial favorite in a community well known for supporting the cultural arts.

The festival, now in its 18th year, has grown exponentially since its inception in 1998. It showcases the considerable artistic talent of locals who design and decorate Christmas trees, gingerbread houses and holiday wreaths to auction off to the highest bidders. This year’s festivities begin on November 4 with a series of three holiday workshops followed by a Girl’s Night Out Gingerbread Making workshop on November 12. 

A preview cocktail party on Friday, November 20 launches a weekend of fun events including visits with Santa, a community songfest, children’s activities, a wrap-up party and last, but not least, a Christmas Shoppe selling delicious homemade pickles, chutneys, cheeses and jellies – all lovingly prepared by a bevy of diehard Children's Theatre volunteers.

Recently, I met with three such ladies – Chris Leavitt, Leslie London and Nancy Ross – who devote their time and energy each year to making batches of red and green pepper jelly that are sold in the Christmas Shoppe. Vibrant, engaged and brimming over with enthusiasm, all three women have witnessed the benefits their children gained from the theatre programs and are excited to be part of this fundraising celebration, which last year netted over $140,000.