The work began two days after Thanksgiving, a time when many are in the midst of enjoying a four-day weekend that may include an early start on Christmas shopping.
But for the members of Catonsville United Methodist Church Men's Group, last Saturday was the day to begin assembling the crèche at the corner of Melvin Avenue and Frederick Road.
Several of the men have been longtime parishioners at Catonsville United Methodist.
"You have guys here that have been baptized here and will be buried here," said Gary Smith, a member of the group for 23 years.
It's a process that's been taking place since 1957. That original team included Roland Meade, Harvey Riddle, William Roeder, Marvin Sprecher and Donald Wagner.
Setting up the elevated wood stable frame to place the statuettes of Joseph, Mary and Jesus was organized and methodical.
Also contributing to the effort were members of Boy Scout Troop 307, an active Scout Troop since 1929 that is based at the church.
This year, Boy Scout Troop 307 will sell evergreen roping, wreaths and holly at the site.
Scoutmaster Dan Hall invites neighbors to support the troop's sale Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Great day for a run
Congratulations to Catonsville High's cross-country team and the Catonville Y for hosting the 8th annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.
"It was a beautiful day, and over 650 participants ran," said Nicol Clark of the Y.
Runners of all ages started off at 8:30 a.m. for the 5k and 1-mile fun run.
The race is unique because it is not a "road" race, but a cross country trail.
Top finishers were: Ty Stump (17:24), Mike Colaiacovo (17:59) and Jason Miller (19:44) among the men and Alyssa Doyle (21:50), Lindsay Bucknan (21:51) and Jen Batchel (22:02) among the women.
The Clelland family of Phil (21:47), dad Jim (21:09) and mom Nelda (24:57) also turned in an impressive effort.
Catonsville Coach Sandra Gallagher-Mohler's team and several parents helped plan and support the event.
A special thanks to YMCA board members Tracey Stuart-Paul and Kathy Chetelat for their hard work and dedication.
"The event exemplifies the Ys relationship with the Catonsville community. The Y staff is always a pleasant and present in force," said Mary Lappe, a Y board member and volunteer at the event.
Business group wants input
The Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce led by President Sally Griffin and Executive Director Teal Cary are looking for feedback from anyone interested in keeping the positive vibe alive in Catonsville.
The chamber's Economic Development Committed led by Ellen Hemmerly is looking to expand into subcommittees for the new year.
Groups will focus on:
• Promotion — signage, ways to attract visitors,
• Streetscape design — encouraging vibrant sidewalk displays and window art
• Logistics — making parking, crosswalks, and bike/walk paths more user friendly.
Residents and business owners interested in contributing ideas and energy are encouraged to join.
"We want our community to thrive," said Karen Gatzke, of We Love Catonsville and a member of the committee. "There are goals we can achieve together.
"We are experiencing a great vibe in Catonsville that some towns never experience.
"This is your chance to shape what's to come.
"And it's our promise to keep meetings to a minimum, and to keep agendas focused and results-oriented."
Amy Wieland, of Amy's Garden Design, is the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce's garden caretaker.
The Oak Forest resident, a Baltimore County Master Gardener, stresses that what we do to the ground around us often affects the water in the Chesapeake Bay.
"Many of us live within a short distance to a storm drain, stream or river that eventually will lead to the Chesapeake Bay. So what we do and how we do things in own yards can affect the health of waterways, the Chesapeake Bay and our environment," she said.
"By making simple changes in our landscape practices, we can keep our wonderful Chesapeake Bay healthier."
The chamber is proud to show off its official Bay-Wise sign in its garden next to its office at 924 Frederick Road. Stop by and have a look.
Spelling bee at St. Agnes
Winner of the Dec. 1 Geography Bee at St. Agnes School was eighth-grader Jacob Wilson.
In second place was sixth-grader Joey Loeb.
Seventh-grader Thomas Hill finished third.
Though the national contest doesn't name an Honorable Mention, Rhyann Short deserves a mention as she went as far as the semifinals and is only in fourth grade.
UMBC on national TV
In case you missed the wonderful CBS "60 Minutes" interview with Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, here is the link: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57319098/hrabowski-an-educator-focused-on-math-and-science/.
Nominate woman of the year
The Baltimore County Commission for Women is accepting nominations for its annual "Woman of the Year" and "Young Woman of the Year" awards.
This is the 30th year the Commission for Women has honored women for their outstanding contributions to the community.
Female residents of Baltimore County who have made significant, unique, and lasting contributions to their community and/or workplace are eligible.
For information, go to http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/women/nominate.html.
Deadline for entries is Jan. 13.
For information, call Nancy Surosky 410-887-2659.
Christmas gift ideas
Catonsville culinary queen Ona Cavey is offering an array of items for gift and gift baskets, including sweet potato bourbon pecan bundt cake ($6.95), cherry pecan streusel loaf ($6.95) and candied herbed nuts with rosemary and brown sugar ($7.50 for 1/2 pound). Contact Ona at 410-371-3133 or email@example.com.
For the true patriot, how about a Commemorative War of 1812 flag? F.W. Haxel Flag Co. is selling the flag with its 15 stars and 15 stripes to benefit three nonprofit organizations: The American Flag Foundation, Friends of Fort McHenry and the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. The 3- by 5- flag is $73.50 and there are only 1,000 available. Go to http://www.shop.fwhaxel.com or contact the Rosedale company at 800-533-4964.