Kids' questions get answers, more
Here's something magical that happened this past week in my art class at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin.
I was introducing my third-grade students to nutcrackers by showing them a YouTube video about Glenn Crider, the Nutcracker Man.
My students started to ask some intriguing questions, such as "What is the hair made of?" and, "How does he make sure the jaw is strong enough to break the nuts?" I told them that I would email Mr. Crider and ask. That was Friday afternoon. Within an hour or two, I received a reply. Here is his response:
"I am delighted that you have found us and are thinking about activity that teaches little folks about nutcrackers . . .
"As you may know, we are the only nutcracker manufacturer in North America and perhaps in the Northern Hemisphere!
"I will share this email with some of our business associates who may be as delighted as I am about this dialog.
"Time is short, so I must respond quickly . . . Santa is packing his sleigh as we speak and nutcrackers are a very important part of the Christmas holiday . . . We use synthetic fur (just like the fur that is on most modern teddy bears). In the old days . . . (over 100 years ago) and on most German nutcrackers, rabbit fur was used . . . We love rabbits and preFUR to use FUR that's not real!
"The jaws are made with plywood. Plywood (like most floors in most modern homes) is stronger than regular wood. The reason is because plywood is made with several layers (or ply) of wood with alternating grain patterns to add strength . . . That way, the nut does not stand a chance!
"Our nutcrackers are sold year round, but 80 percent of the sales come at Christmas time . . . That's because of the nutcracker's association with the nutcracker ballet that is performed by most ballet companies this time of year.
"Now . . . If you will send me your address, I will be happy to send along a sample of our work for all to enjoy with my compliments! Thanks for asking! Merry Christmas!"
We received the package on Wednesday afternoon. He sent us a pizza chef nutcracker, a ginger cottage and a ginger cottage ornament for each student in the class.
I have pictures to send, of all of us, with our gifts. This afternoon, I sent hand-drawn pictures of the nutcracker with heart-felt thanks.
What a wonderful Christmas memory for these students!
Stacie Little, Dunedin
Voters to get say on mass transit | story, Dec. 11
Mass transit plan not worth a penny
Count me out. We already have one of the highest (sales) tax rates in Florida at 7 percent. If all another penny is going to get me is transportation to Clearwater from St. Pete, that's a waste.
I would rather have a water taxi, a ferry service connecting the Pier, beaches, Rays fans, tourists and residents with points across the bay in South Tampa, (MacDill area), Davis Islands (Tampa Bay Aquarium), Tampa Bay Times Forum, a connecting bus/shuttle service to Raymond James Stadium, USF and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Now that I would vote yes on to raise taxes a penny. Clearwater to St. Pete? You're joking, right??
John Evans, St. Petersburg
Christmas made merry for seniors
On behalf of the staff at Home Instead Senior Care, I would like to thank everyone who helped with this year's very successful Be a Santa to a Senior program.
With support from generous shoppers, Beall's Outlet stores, JSA Healthcare, Community Bible Church, the YMCA of Palm Harbor and Shapes Total Fitness, we were able to collect more than 500 gifts for local seniors who otherwise might have been overlooked this holiday season.
We also would like to thank the many volunteers who shared their time to collect, wrap and deliver the gifts to 500 area seniors, many of whom struggle to make ends meet.
Thanks to all those who helped us brighten the holidays for our local seniors and truly making a difference in our community.
Julie Krol, Home Instead Senior Care, Clearwater