November 25, 2008

Youngsters picked for Dec. 7 ‘Santa Expert Panel’

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Department of Theater recently conducted an extensive search for the area’s most knowledgeable experts on Santa Claus -- and five young people from the area stepped forward to share their expertise.

These young Santa scholars will be part of a Santa Expert Panel at 1 p.m. on Dec. 7 in the Christian H. Moe Theater. The panel precedes the matinee live theater presentation of the “A Christmas Story,” in the McLeod Theater. The Moe theater is just a few feet from the lobby of the McLeod Theater.

WSIU-TV’s Jak Tichenor will host the panel. Visitors are welcome to hear about 45 minutes of expert opinion on the jolly old elf. There is no admission cost to attend the panel.

The panel is:

• Austin Reliford, age 5 of Carbondale

• Trevor Pierson, a first-grade student at Elverado Primary School in Vergennes

• Sydney Cook, age 8, of Murphysboro

• Amy Harris, age 7, of Radom

• Rhianna Sade Gides, age 4, of Carbondale

“It was very difficult to select the winners,” Vincent Rhomberg, head of marketing for the theater department, said. “There were 157 entries from across Southern Illinois, and they were all great. You can see them for yourself in the lobby of the McLeodTheater.”

Entrants submitted letters and drawings showing their knowledge of Santa. Winners received free tickets to the live theater production of “A Christmas Story” for them and their families. In addition, the first 50 entrants received a free children’s ticket to the show. The Southern Illinoisan sponsored the contest.

“A Christmas Story” runs at the McLeod Theater Dec. 5-7. The Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday performance is a matinee at 2 p.m. following the Santa panel.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for senior citizens and $6 for children and students. To reserve tickets, contact the McLeod Theater Box Office at 618/453-3001, beginning Monday, Dec. 1. Tickets are also available beginning one hour before each performance.