Festivities and Nutcrackers Galore

By Carla Sue Broecker

Evelyn and David Sympson held their annual festive Christmas party at their gaily-decorated home off of Blankenbaker Lane.

According to the Sympsons, Wilhelm Nuss realized society’s lack of recognition of the small minority of lady nutcrackers and founded the Weiblich Nutcracker Foundation. I think Evelyn must be on his board since their home is full of nutcrackers and an extensive “neighborhood” of miniature houses, churches and carolers (there may even be a firehouse!) over the fireplace and on the shelves in their library. The rest of the house is just as pretty and there are loads of fun “things” to look at during this holiday season.

The “groaning board” or dining room table was filled with savory delights from scallops wrapped in bacon, miniature crab cakes, country and city ham, a whole host of cheeses, shrimp and too many more to mention. Evelyn and David prepared the food themselves.

Connie and Steve Tipton, Don and Bobbie Windhorst, Julie and Jonathan Sympson, Bridget Handley, General Carl and Sue Black, General Robert Silverthorn, Bob and Susan Means, Doug and Allison Collins, Carolyn Moyse,  Tom and Caroline Payne, Dr. Barry Stoler, Dr. George Strunk, Jim and Carolyn Sympson, Kay and Steve Vest and Marie and Dennis Wine were among the guests. And a good time was had by all.


For years Mary Jean and Joe Gandolfo have invited friends and family to a wonderful holiday party. It is a party that you would expect to see on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

The tree is up and the house is decorated. Family and friends gather to chat and bring each other up-to-date on the goings-on in their respective lives. Most of the people have been family friends for 50 years. We attended their beautiful wedding at Holy Spirit years ago and now Mary Jean and Joe have grandchildren!

All generations are represented: friends, extended families, their children’s friends, parish priests and the odd stray who has no one to celebrate the holidays with.

Mary Jean prepares a bountiful, indulgent holiday dinner, after which everyone heads for home, talked out and happy with a full belly, a nutcracker ornament and the good feeling of being with good friends.

Among the guests were Jeanie and David Ferguson, Beth and Gary Criscillis, Russ and Rosie Raque, Bishop Spalding, Father Wayne Jenkins, Father “B.J.,” Judy and Peter Wayne, Theresa Stube, daughter Jeanna Phillips and her son Jack. 


When it comes to throwing large parties with a flair, Ingrid and John Johnson should get a prize for this season. Their glorious home on a hill in Glenview off of Lime Kiln Lane is a killer. The party started just as the sun was going down. As the front door opened, glorious holiday music was being played on the front hall piano by John Bizianes. In all, several hundred guests were expected and the caterer, 211 Clover Lane, was up to the task of passing great hors d’oeuvres.

Everybody you ever knew and lots you didn’t were there. They included: Steve and Terri Bass, David Easterly, Neville Blakemore and Gray Henry, Cathy and John Yarmuth, Karen Casi, Emily Digenis and Hunter Sattich, Tara Long and Harry Dennery, Andrew Kipe and Ed Schadt were among the many having a ball.


Here is hoping the holidays are great and memorable for all readers. When you next hear from me, we will be in Beijing, getting ready to sail until the middle of May. It will be fun to tell you all about the exciting places we have never seen before and a few we are going to enjoy going back to. VT

Cathy and John Yarmuth at the Johnson party.



Terri Bass and Karen Casi at the Johnson’s.


Ingrid Johnson greeting guest John Ramsey at her party.


Five-year-old Jack Phillips having dessert at Mary Jean and Joe Gandolfo’s party.


Party hosts Joe and Mary Jean Gandolfo.


Party hosts Evelyn and David Sympson.


Guests Bobbie and Don Windhorst at the Sympson party.