Every new production at the Rialto Arts Center is exciting: a new beginning and a chance to shine. We all work as a team to bring about a successful and appealing even for the whole family. We owe it to the community that supports our efforts to provide cultural fodder for the townsfolk. At this time, I am reporting on our winter pageant, an annual occasion that brings smiles to the faces of adults and kids alike. Everyone marks their calendars as soon as our season has been set.

A winter pageant, unlike other seasons of the year, has certain requirements. No leafy, fruit-laden trees as a set, or flowing green lawns. No beaches, parks, or flowery fields. That would be suitable for spring and summer. In the fall, we have wonderful, colorful autumn leaves, hand painted by local school children. We raid the local pumpkin farm for props. Our Halloween show is sensational. But winter is near, and we need to think about making snow. It takes time and we have to plan ahead—months in advance.

You can buy snow in bags for theatrical use or get a machine. It gets a bit messy. It also adds to the budget. This year, we will be more clever and economical and use a document shredder. Everyone has old paper lying around, and it will produce the most authentic-looking snow that will also be easy to clean up. The set designer has enlisted the help of everyone so we have enough of the white stuff to fill the stage. What would a winter pageant be without it? Not much.

There will be a sleigh filled with costumed children and an assortment of icicles on the pseudo trees. We love firs, of course, for their obvious associations. A Christmas pageant would entail a decorated tree, but our generic winter version is meant to be symbolic of the entire time of the year. Set decoration is always the most fun part of the experience. The music, lighting, and dialogue follow suit. There is the need to rehearse, make costumes, paint scenery, and sell tickets.

This year, the shredder will be donated by a local business so there is no indentation at all in the budget. We will have the funds for better stage materials and amenities. We like to have intermission refreshments consisting of hot, spiced cider and gingerbread cookies. We ask kids to come in a costume of their choice, which makes the entire event that much more festive. After the show, they are welcome to take home some “snow” and decorate their rooms to their heart’s delight. This is our method of cleaning up the stage. Rather clever, don’t you think?