Lighting up the Delaware Valley, socially distant Santa and drive-thru holiday cheer in this week’s Things To Do

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Scuba Santa at Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J. (Adventure Aquarium / youtube)

Scuba Santa at Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J. (Adventure Aquarium / youtube)

Despite renewed COVID restrictions, there are ways to celebrate outdoors and virtually through the holidays. This week, that includes light displays and more classic “Nutcracker” performances on-demand.

Bright lights, big city

Drive-thru and walk-thru holiday attractions are some of the best ways to embrace family traditions despite ongoing coronavirus-related closings and limitations. At the 120-acre Rose Tree Park in Media, the annual, free Festival of Lights includes festive trees, holiday-themed installations and more. The grounds include three historic buildings — the Leedom House, the Hunt Club and the Rose Tree Tavern, built in 1737, which encompasses the Delaware County Visitors Bureau. At the Herr’s Factory in Nottingham, a free drive-thru display includes 600,000 lights. Delaware’s Winter in Wilmington light show, a drive-thru on the waterfront, features animated displays and interactive music.

Festival of Lights,
Rose Tree Park, 1671 N. Providence Rd., Media, Pa.
5 p.m. – 10 p.m., free, through Jan. 3.

Herr’s Snack Factory Christmas Lights Display
271 Old Baltimore Pike, Nottingham, Pa.
dusk to dawn, free, through Jan. 2.

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Winter in Wilmington light show
Riverfront, 760 Justison St. Wilmington, Del.
$25 through Jan. 3.

Holiday drive

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the Philadelphia Film Society has kept the movies going by providing a local drive-in on the grounds of the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Though the original plan was to end by fall, they’ve extended their screenings through the winter. “Love Actually” and “Elf” were scheduled to show this weekend, but the weather forecast may mean they will have to be postponed. Other upcoming films include “A Christmas Story” and “Wonder Woman 1984” which will be released on Christmas Day to limited theaters, drive-ins and on HBO Max.

PFS Drive-In at the Navy Yard 
League Island Blvd. and Admiral Peary Way
various days, times, $12

Underwater Santa

If the holiday tradition of pics with Santa seemed too risky this year, there is a clever alternative. Santa is underwater at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, which would be the ultimate in social distancing. Photo-ops with Scuba Santa are available both from the ocean realm and his ‘magic snow globe’ when he’s not diving. The shark realm exhibit includes what the aquarium is billing as the world’s tallest and smallest underwater Christmas trees.

Christmas Underwater
Adventure Aquarium, 1 Riverside Dr. Camden, N.J.
$21.99 and up, special Christmas Underwater ‘bundles’ available, through Dec. 24.

Ballet classic

While there have been a spate of alternate versions, as is the norm every holiday season, the classic “Nutcracker” ballet is alive, though this year, it’s virtual by necessity. The Pennsylvania Ballet’s version comes with Zoom tea-party packages and interactive events with selected soloists and principal dancers. The Schuylkill Regional Ballet Company offers a streaming film created in 2020, choreographed by Brittany Ryan and Tim Early, with 50 dancers and guest artists. Both shows can be streamed on demand through the rest of the year.

“George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,”
Pennsylvania Ballet, virtual
through Dec. 25, $25 and up, various options, prices.

“The Nutcracker Reimagined”
Schuylkill River Regional Ballet
$30 through Jan. 3.

A crooner chronicled

Frances Albert Sinatra did a lot of living and a lot of singing in the 82 years he spent on this earth. Although he was known for his command of jazz and pop standards, he was also among the singers beloved for their renditions of classic Christmas music. His version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” first recorded in 1957, is among the genre’s most mournful even though Sinatra asked for a change in the lyrics to make it more upbeat.  A 2015 documentary “Frank Sinatra: All or Nothing At All” co-produced by Nancy Sinatra with Oscar-winner Alex Gibney is now on Netflix and Amazon Prime. If you missed it the first time, the two-part doc is worth the watch as it provides a nuanced view of Sinatra’s life and loves juxtaposed against his 1971 “retirement” concert at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theater. Spoiler alert: He didn’t actually retire.

Only in Philadelphia

If you frequent Paddy’s Pub in South Philadelphia, well, it’s because you’re a fan of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” the FX sitcom that is set in the fictional bar. This year, the show achieved a historic milestone by becoming the longest running live-action TV comedy in history. Created by Philadelphia native Rob McElhenney and co-star Glenn Howerton, the show surpassed the earlier record set by “The Ozzie and Harriet Show” in the 60s. The acerbic comedy, also starring Danny DeVito, Charlie Day and Kaitlin Olson, now McElhenney’s real-life wife, has already taped 154 episodes so if you want to binge-watch it, keep that in mind. It’s available on FX on Hulu and on Amazon Prime. Although principal photography for the show is done in Los Angeles, city landmarks are highlighted in several episodes, and Mac’s Tavern in Olde City is owned by McElhenney.

Keep checking in with “Things To Do” as we continue to provide our picks for entertainment during the industry’s COVID-19 hiatus. Please consult our coronavirus updates to keep up with the latest information regionally.

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