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Washington County Museum of Fine Arts truly brings magic to holiday celebration

December 15, 2007|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN ? The Children's Holiday Reception Saturday at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts kept with the traditions of Jolly Old St. Nick and sprinkled sugar cookies.

But it also featured a more unlikely draw ? a levitating girl.

Frank Culler of Waynesboro, Pa., owner of Culler Magic, presented a 40-minute magic show complete with a disappearing and reappearing bunny. At the end of the show, he wowed the 116 people in the audience when he invited 7-year-old Claire Kohlhaas of Fredericksburg, Va., on stage and, by all appearances, caused her to rest several feet above the floor in mid-air.

"Claire was just beside herself. She thoroughly enjoyed it," said Claire's grandmother, Ginny Lewis of Fairplay.

"He floated me in the air," Claire said. "I loved it."

The museum is developing a tradition of unique holiday celebrations. In recent years, the children's reception has featured a reptile show with a long, plump, yellow snake named Banana Boy.

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Museum educator Melly Duffin said the goal of the reception is to entertain the children.

"We offer it as a gift," Duffin said. "It's a joyful season. The museum tries to offer an outreach to children and parents in the vicinity."

Tickets to the reception cost $2. Following the magic show, children lined up for face painting, cookies and punch, and a visit with Santa Claus. Each child received a goodie bag filled with crayons, small toys and an orange.

Sisters Haley and Emma Parkinson, 7 and 6, of Martinsburg, W.Va., shared their wish lists with Santa.

"I told him I want a Hannah Montana doll, and a Hannah Montana car, and a picture with a heart on it," Haley said.

Kristin Young of Hagerstown took her 6-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, to the reception. When Kaitlyn had one of Santa's elves paint Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on her cheek, Kristin joined in the fun, having a blue snowflake painted on hers.

"It's the magic of Christmas," Kristin Young said. "We must believe."

Jessica Trumble, 8, and her sister, Andrea, 4, of Hagerstown, used the crayons from their goodie bags to draw pictures on their refreshment napkins and gave them to Santa.

"I think it's beautiful," Santa told the girls. "Believe it or not, I save all of this stuff. The letters and everything."

As the children left the reception, the elves bid them farewell with balloon sculptures in the shapes of poinsettias and of reindeer antlers to wear on their heads.

Kevin Trumble commended the museum for hosting the event.

"It's nice to have something the kids enjoy. The magic show, seeing Santa and the face painting," Trumble said. "They've had a great time. It's really neat."

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