Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

Nutcracker Village Guards Historic Fort Steuben

Nutcrackers Line the Avenue

Nutcrackers, under an archway of lights, line the walk at Fort Steuben.

Time slows down as everyone strolls slowly through Historic Fort Steuben while they view the Nutcrackers and visit with friends.You can feel the Christmas spirit in the air.

A truly magical event happens at Fort Steuben Park from November 21 through January 7. Nutcrackers stand guard throughout the park twenty-four hours a day to bring joy and excitement to the Steubenville community along the Ohio River.

German tradition tells us that nutcrackers were given as keepsakes to bring good luck and protect your home. Their power and strength is much like a watchdog keeping evil spirits and danger away.

john-glenn.jpg

Each Nutcracker designates a popular area figure such as astronaut, John Glenn.

The first nutcrackers carved by the Steinbachs of Germany featured kings, military officers and prominent members of the upper class. Steubenville Nutcracker Village has continued that tradition by having Nutcrackers designed in the image of prominent local, historical and literary people.

Nutcracker Ohio State

All area schools are represented by a Nutcracker, including Ohio State.

The Steubenville Nutcracker Village became a reality due to the partnership of Nelson’s of Steubenville and Old Fort Steuben Project with Jerry Barilla, president. The project is sponsored by Trinity Health System. It’s their gift to the people of the Ohio Valley. They lay claim to having the world’s largest collection of life-size nutcrackers at 150 and growing each year.

Nutcracker First Junior

That first Nutcracker, Junior, stands inside the Visitors Center.

The idea came to Jerry Barilla as he was packing away his nutcrackers after the holiday season. A spark went off that said, “This could be a community project.” Enter Mark Nelson of Nelson’s Art and Design who fanned that spark and with help from his family created the first Nutcracker.

Nutcracker Terese and Mark 2

Terese, Uncle Drosselmeyer, and  co-founder, Mark Nelson. enjoy visiting at the market.

Each 6′ Nutcracker is uniquely designed and hand painted in Steubenville by Nelson’s, home of inspirational gifts. Mark’s daughter, Terese, designs and oversees painting of the nutcrackers while Brian Stutzman, woodworker at Nelson’s, does the actual carving.  Much thought, planning and time go into each Nutcracker as their details are outstanding.

Nutcracker Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa has been honored due to her great inspiration to the world.

Constructed of a dense foam with fiber glass covering, they are both light enough to move easily and sturdy enough to withstand the harsh winter elements of November and December.

Nutcracker Grandpa and Grandma

Grandma and Grandpa Nutcracker sit in Advent Market with picnic tables behind them.

When Mark was asked if he had a favorite Nutcracker, he thought carefully before responding. “Picking a favorite Nutcracker is like picking a favorite child…Impossible!”

Nutcracker Nativity SceneTake a stroll through Fort Steuben Park day or night to walk among the Nutcrackers lined along the avenue created by a canopy of colorful lights. Nighttime becomes magical as lights and music highlight the characters.

Nutcracker Tree in Advent Market

A 30′ Christmas Tree stands in the center of Advent Market.

Special effects can be seen from the blue and gold lights on the Sixth Street Bridge, a 30′ Christmas tree in the heart of Advent Market, and wreaths, holly and garland all around the park. The Advent Market, inspired by a Franciscan custom, is open the five weekends after Thanksgiving on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with handcrafted and homemade goods available from holiday chalets.

Nutcracker Crooners

The Rat Pack is featured, including hometown star, Dean Martin, “King of Cool”.

If you would care to watch a special performance, Wooden Heart Follies, an original Nutcracker musical, is being presented at the Steubenville Masonic Temple.  Discover if wooden figures can fall in love. While the melodies are from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, the story is based on the Nutcrackers in Fort Steuben Park

Nutcracker Letters to Santa

Inside the Visitors Center is a convenient place to write Letters to Santa.

Don’t forget to check inside the Visitors Center, where you’ll find a Winter Wonderland of Christmas holidays from the past. There’s also a place to write a letter to Santa and many great gift ideas.

Nutcracker Fudge

You could even find Nutcracker fudge in the Advent Market.

Take a free ride downtown, to view some of the artwork in this “City of Murals”, on the Holly Trolley every half hour on Saturday or Sunday from 1-4 pm.  Or perhaps you prefer a free Hayride every half hour on Advent Days from 6-8 pm.

Nutcracker Amphitheater

Berkman Amphitheater along the Ohio River provides a place for weekend entertainment.

Watch live entertainment consisting of area performers, church and school choirs, and regional bands on Advent Weekends from 5 – 8 pm in the Berkman Amphitheater in the park. Holiday music fills the air.

Nelson Family

The Mark Nelson family all play a role in Steubenville Nutcracker Village.

Stroll through Fort Steuben Park and pick out your favorite Nutcracker…if you can. It’s a great place for families to come together and receive a little Christmas magic.

Historic Fort Steuben can be reached off Ohio-7 along the Ohio River. Address is 120 S 3rd Street, Steubenville, Ohio.

 

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Tis the Season to Catch the Christmas Spirit

tis-outside

Entering  Tis the Season Christmas Shoppe, you see the real reason for the season displayed.

Decorating for Christmas helps lift the spirits of a world which is normally a bit on the gloomy side at this time of year. If you need any ideas, Tis the Season Christmas Shoppe near Berlin might be the perfect place to visit. With over 20,000 square feet to explore, you’ll feel like you’re in a Christmas Wonderland surrounded by the songs of the Christmas season all year long.

tis-jo-ann

Jo Ann is pleased with her new White on White Christmas display surrounded by angels.

The story of Tis the Season Christmas Shoppe and Jo Ann Schrock-Hershberger are inseparable. Over twenty years ago, Jo Ann was traveling and visited a Christmas store. She wondered if that idea would work back at her home near Berlin, Ohio.

Jo Ann’s grandfather served as an Amish bishop. Her father and mother broke away from the Amish tradition when Jo Ann was two years old. She wasn’t real sure if Christmas would be an attraction in Amish country. So she tried a small shop first. It worked!

tis-alleluia-chapel

A multitude of angels welcome  you in Alleluia Chapel filled with antique pews and stained glass windows.

Their unique round barn, once part of the Schrock farm, became the home for Tis the Season. When designing the layout of the entire shoppe herself, Jo Ann made sure “no matter where you are, you can see the reason for the season.” A large nativity scene sets high in the center, with the Alleluia Chapel on the main floor.

When you step through the front door, it’s like walking into Christmas. Greeted by the sounds of Christmas music, spectacular trees, beautiful collectibles, and innumerable ornaments, you are immediately filled with the holiday spirit.

tis-overview

This overview from the circular walkway on the second floor displays the spirit of Tis the Season.

Three levels provide room to explore. The main level has decorated trees of every style and color while the upper loft, with circular walkway, has rooms filled with specific decorations. One room overflows with snowmen, while another has various Santa ornaments. A room brimming with gingerbread decorations also holds various candy canes.

tis-cardinal-tree

Birds happen to be one of their most popular decorations for trees. This cardinal tree is perfect for Ohio.

The bottom floor contains examples of many trees, ranging from 2′ to 10′. Here you’ll find a great variety of trees: silver, twig, slim, prelit and more. There are over a hundred decorated trees throughout the building with varying themes from reindeer to angels. Each one is beautiful in its own way and gives you many ideas for decorating your own tree.

tis-snowmen

On the upper floor, snowmen dominate one of the rooms.

Their constantly expanding inventory now includes thousands of bulbs, tree toppers and garlands. Over a hundred different kinds of lights are available. It’s Ohio’s largest year round Christmas shop.

tis-collectibles

Collectibles like Snowbabies make delightful gifts. Various collectibles can be found throughout the shop.

Not only will you find everything you need to give your home a festive Christmas appearance, but they also have unique home decor and holiday gifts from dolls to gift baskets. Many collectibles are available here that can’t be easily found elsewhere.

tis-personalized

The most popular area personalizes from a large selection of ornaments.Selena and Logan find this a happy place to work.

Happy employees abound, but who wouldn’t be happy surrounded by Christmas. However, the main reason the employees enjoy working here is Jo Ann. She works side by side with them, roasting nuts or running the cash register. Everyone has a headset, which keeps them all in close contact.

tis-old-fashioned-tree

A nostalgic Christmas tree contains old-fashioned ornaments.

People come here from all over the world because they love Christmas and can find unique Christmas decorations. Men, women, and children enthusiastically explore all three floors. Once in a while a husband could be found patiently waiting on one of their many comfy sofas and chairs. Many come on family outings. Almost everyone leaves with a piece of Christmas.

When Jo Ann has time, she and her husband enjoy traveling and most likely visit Christmas shops along the way. While they have traveled extensively throughout the United States and taken many cruises, one place left on her bucket list is the homeland of her ancestors – Southern Germany and Austria. Everyone needs a change of pace now and then.

Plan an escape from daily routine and catch the spirit of the holidays at Tis the Season Christmas Shoppe. It’s the kind of place you return time and time again…I do.

christmas-santa-white

This old-fashioned Santa bell was my choice this year.

There’s only one problem. Which lovely Christmas decorations should you take home with you? Several of their ornaments hang on my tree every year, and an old-fashioned Santa was added on this road trip. Visit Tis the Season Christmas Shoppe where it’s nothing but Christmas all year long.

Tis the Season Christmas Shoppe can be found along State Route 39  near Millersburg, Ohio. It sets down off the road in a small valley as part of Schrock’s Amish Farm and Village.

Castle Noel – A Family Christmas Experience

Castle Noel Buddy

Mark Klaus is ready to welcome you to Castle Noel and their newest movie set, “Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas”, starring Buddy!

The most amazing thing you’ve ever seen

is Castle Noel in ’17.”

That’s how Mark and Dana Klaus feels about Castle Noel, which captures the spirit of a family Christmas in several ways. The heart and soul of Castle Noel in Medina is Mark Klaus – with a name like that and a full beard, Christmas seemed a natural passion.

Sweet Shoppe Window

This Sweet Shoppe window display from Saks 5th Avenue is a favorite of visitors.

Growing up, Mark’s dad loved decorating for Christmas. Neighbors came from miles around to see his 16′ Christmas tree, as well as the reindeer and sleigh hanging from their ceiling. The Klaus house looked like a Christmas Wonderland.

Castle Noel Ornament

Mark’s sculpting skills create beautiful ornaments.

Mark, a world renowned master sculptor, displays many of his sculpted ornaments and angels in their gift shop. His miniature detail is accomplished through using dental tools and magnifying glasses. Angels are one of his favorite sculptures. Why?

Mark’s mother was killed in an automobile accident when he was sixteen. It happened on Christmas Eve. Mark said, “This all is a tribute to my mom.”

Castle Noel Church

This former Methodist church in Medina is now home to Castle Noel.

When Mark was searching for the perfect place to locate his enormous Christmas collection, he looked all over the United States but decided to come back to his home area. He found an abandoned Methodist Church built in 1891 in Medina that reminded him of a castle, thus the name, Castle Noel, which opened in 2013.

Castle Noel Lampoon Vacation

Mark drove the camper from Lampoon Vacation all the way from California to Ohio.

Usually Mark and his wife, Dana, work seven days a week and think about Castle Noel twenty four hours a day. Once in a while, they go on vacation. Walt Disney’s parks top the list as Mark’s favorite spots. But he doesn’t go there for the reasons most attend…Mark goes for inspiration for another idea to make Castle Noel even better.

Castle Noel Vortex

Walking through the Blizzard Vortex had everyone hanging onto the handrails.

Every year there’s something new to see at Castle Noel as Mark constantly makes improvements so it can continue to be “America’s Largest Indoor Year Round Christmas Entertainment Attraction”.

Castle Noel Santa Squeeze

Get the feeling of Santa going down the chimney in Santa Squeeze with 100,000 glass bulbs overhead for some extra Christmas cheer.

There seems to be something exciting around each corner, so only a few of the highlights are mentioned here.

 

Castle Noel Grinch set

This is an actual movie set from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

His fantastic collection of Christmas movie sets, props and costumes that are worn in the Hollywood movies is mind boggling. He authenticates everything before displaying it in Castle Noel.

Castle Noel Gummy Bears

Mark was given three hours to remove this gummy bear display from Bloomingdale’s.

As you continue your journey you travel to New York City at Christmas time and stroll through the Platinum award winning animated window displays from Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. Windows from our own Higbee’s in the 60s, Bloomingdale’s, plus Macy’s of Pittsburgh, New York and Washington state create a magical journey for all ages.

Caslte Noel Slide

Go up the stairs through the Enchanted Mountain, see Santa, and ride the slide down…just like Ralphie.

Last stop is Enchanted Mountain filled with animated animals. But it’s the slide back down that everyone enjoys. Seated on a burlap mat, all ages enjoy the thrill of sliding down the giant red slide like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story”. A great way to end the tour!

Castle Noel Alien Golf

Have some extra excitement at Alien Vacation Mini Golf.

But wait, there’s more! Outside you’ll find the entrance to Alien Vacation Mini Golf. You enter a 3D wonderland with miles of fiber optics. It now has 19 holes since the landing of the Alien Spaceship. You’ll enjoy this 3D spot whether you decide to play mini-golf or not.

Castle Noel Mark Klaus

A working Mark Klaus has fun with visitors after the tour.

Castle Noel is the perfect place for folks of every generation to make lasting Christmas memories. As Mark and Dana would tell you, “We like having fun around here.”

Castle Noel is located at 260 S Court Street, Medina, Ohio. From I-77 take exit 122B for US-224 W. Take exit 7 for OH-57 into the town of Medina. 

My Gypsy Christmas Tree

Gypsy Christmas Tree

My Gypsy Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,

Thy leaves are so unchanging.

Alien from Roswell, NM helps bear trim the tree.

Alien from Roswell helps bear trim the tree.

My favorite Christmas decoration is the Christmas Tree. Each ornament brings back special memories made over the years.

As a child, my memories of Christmas always centered around a pine tree. Under the tree, wrapped packages magically appeared each Christmas morning. One of the first presents I remember was a chalkboard with the alphabet written around the edge – just in time for first grade. My parents obviously encouraged my writing at a very early age.

Santa and Mrs. Claus ride the ski lift at Aspen, CO.

Santa and Mrs. Claus ride the ski lift at Aspen, CO.

Those were the days when dad would take me in his pick-up truck down Hopewell Hill to a hillside of trees where we would pick out the very best one. Dad would saw it down, carry it down the hill, and place it in the back of the pick-up.  All the way home my eyes would be out the back window, making certain that tree remained on board.

Although mom wasn’t a big fan of decorating, she would put on the lights, then let me decorate the part of the tree that I could reach. Perhaps you can see why the Christmas tree became an important, fun part of the holiday.

A bear from Canaan Valley is my newest ornament.

A bear from Canaan Valley is my newest ornament.

Over the years, ornaments have been accumulated from various places. Once I began my Gypsy Road Trips, when I came upon a spot I truly enjoyed, my search for an ornament began.

Now my Christmas tree looks like a Gypsy Tree with ornaments from all over the United States. No pattern or special design adorns this tree, just pleasant memories. Sometimes it takes a week to decorate as each ornament brings back happy times spent on the road. Oh, there are still a few from long ago and even some received from students in my classes, but most of them are travel treasures.

Bear ice skates on Prince Edward Island.

Bear ice skates on Prince Edward Island.

As you can probably tell, bears have a special place in my heart and they are seen in many of the ornaments hanging on my tree. There are definitely too many to share at one time, so perhaps next year you will be treated to more of the special memories hanging on my Gypsy Christmas Tree.

Here’s wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends. May you find peace and happiness under your Christmas tree.

As Santa would say as he drove out of sight,  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

My Gypsy Tree lights up the evening.

My Gypsy Christmas Tree lights up the evening.

Best Beard Contest

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

At the end of every summer, Nick began growing a beard to keep his face warm when working outside in the winter. At least that was the man’s excuse. His wife thought this good natured fellow just didn’t want to fuss with shaving.

But this year, Nick had a second reason. There was an article in the paper about a Dickens Whiskers Wars Beard and Mustache Competition. Like the men of Charles Dickens time, Nick thought it was very manly to have facial hair. With a long, full beard perhaps there was a chance to win the “Best Beard” category.

The contest would be in November so getting an early start was important. How could he speed up the process of developing a long, bushy beard? Nick read that facial hair would grow more quickly if a man is well rested and free from stress. So when his wife wanted the lawn mowed or leaves raked, Nick would give a nod of the head and say, “My beard doesn’t need that kind of stress.” Smoking a pipe with feet on a stool created more relaxation.

Nick's beard was snowy white.

Nick’s beard was snowy white.

Nick made a trip to the local drug store to pick up some biotin and B vitamins, which increase growth of hair and nails. A circular massage of his face while relaxing on the couch in the evening would also stimulate hair growth. Certainly these healthy additions, as routine parts of the day, would assist in creating the best beard possible.

Actually, all of these steps were making Nick’s beard look fantastic. His full beard was nearly a foot long with a snow-white glow. As the contest rapidly approached, Nick headed to a favorite restaurant for a couple of hamburgers, because protein also is important for beard growth.

With all Nick’s resting and eating, quite a few extra pounds had been added. No longer could a belt meet after traveling through the belt loops, so suspenders became the best way to support the larger jeans.

A little girl ran to the restaurant.

A little girl ran to the restaurant.

As Nick sat at the table wearing suspenders over a red plaid shirt with a red cap on his head, a little girl ran over and jumped up in his lap.

Her mother hurried over immediately, very upset by her daughter’s behavior. “Cathy, you know you aren’t allowed to talk to strangers.”

“But Mom, it’s just Santa Claus without his uniform.” Cathy’s blue eyes sparkled as she laid her curly blond head against the jolly man she thought was Santa.

“Ho, Ho, Ho,” burst forth from Nick’s lips. Maybe he could win the “Best Beard” contest. As Nick left the restaurant, you could hear him exclaim with his beard snowy white, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

Best Wishes for a wonderful Christmas holiday and a New Year filled with peace and happiness.

My wish for you is a wonderful Christmas holiday with family and friends, and a New Year filled with peace and happiness.

Magical Sleigh Ride

Waiting at the theaterTap, tap, tap! Sitting on a cold bench outside the theater, Katherine tapped her foot impatiently waiting for the show to begin. Dressed in a warm cape with a red knit scarf around her neck, the winter chill didn’t bother her. The Christmas season always brought her out to watch the crowds pass on their way to shop for the holidays. But Katherine didn’t need to shop for anything, she only wanted to see the Christmas show.

While she waited, she heard the clip-clop of horses’ hooves on the pavement.  Riding in a horse and sleigh would be more fun than playing charades at a party, thought the young lady. The second time she heard it, she jumped from the bench and moved quickly to the side of the street.

“Any chance you could pick up a lady for a short ride?” Katherine smiled as she approached the driver of the sleigh.

“Usually people pay to ride, but I’m in the Christmas spirit tonight so let me help you up here.” Then the driver wrapped a warm blanket around her legs before they headed off on an adventure.

Katherine and the sleigh just seemed to float over the town almost like a magic carpet with sleigh bells attached.  She could look down and see all the mannequins along the street. There were those beautiful courthouse lights she had heard so much about but had never seen.  Katherine’s laughter warmed the air as she pleaded with the driver, “Could you circle around again so I can see those lights a little better. Slow down!”

The driver settled the sleigh softly on the roof of the bank building. Then he watched with Katherine as they enjoyed the beautiful courthouse with pulsating Christmas lights synchronized to holiday music.

Later as they drifted over the city, Katherine was as excited as the kids at a chestnut roasting. Her heart skipped a beat as they swooped down around the frozen Salt Fork Lake. The dazzling snow-capped firs and pines were the perfect hide-out for a family of deer. The snow glistened in the moonlight creating a magical feeling in the air.

Mannequin still waitsThe evening flew by with Katherine feeling like a young girl again. Happiness like this was a priceless treasure even though she knew it would soon end. As the sleigh came back to the theater, it dropped down to the street and the clip-clop of horses’ hooves was heard once again. Katherine sat back down on the bench and waited with the ticket still in her hand. Perhaps that ticket will bring her more magical happenings in the future. But for now, Katherine is again the mannequin that sits on the bench in front of the theater, hoping the passers-by will enjoy their walk through Dickens Victorian Village.

Story Behind the Story

Being a volunteer at Dickens Victorian Village in Cambridge, Ohio brings me lots of pleasure. A few weeks ago, however, one of  the mannequins was stolen from the bench in front of the theater.  Strangely enough, the next day she was back on her bench. Another volunteer, who knows I enjoy writing stories, suggested that I create a story about her adventure while she was gone.  Hope you enjoyed Katherine’s little sleigh ride!

The Castle Radiates Victorian Elegance

The Castle Oozing Victorian charm and Victorian Christmas, The Castle in Marietta, Ohio takes one back to a simpler time – from a wealthy viewpoint! Even though now situated in the center of town, back in 1858 when it was first built, the house was on one of the highest spots in the area and overlooked the then existing town of Marietta. Two trees still stand in the front yard where they were planted over a hundred and fifty years ago.

Today The Castle is operated by Betsey Mills Corporation and is dedicated to the education of the public regarding Marietta history as well as life in Victorian times. Tours of The Castle are given on a daily basis whenever visitors happen to arrive. The guides are very knowledgeable of the history of The Castle and share a lot of humorous stories that make the visit extra enjoyable. If you enjoy life in Victorian times, perhaps this glimpse inside will make you eager to visit there yourself.

The Carriage HouseBeginning in the Carriage House, which now serves as the Visitors’ Center, a video explains a brief history of the people who have resided at The Castle. Back in 1855, Melvin Clarke paid $2000 for two empty lots where the house was to be built. Ownership by prominent and influential citizens has changed quite often over the years from original owner/builder, who was an attorney and first city solicitor, and continuing with the person who established the Bank of Marietta,  the owner of Marietta Gazette, and even an Ohio State Senator.

The Castle EntrancewaySince taking pictures inside was not permitted, decided to buy a couple postcards of my favorite rooms. Walking in the front door, the spirit of Victorian Christmas surrounded you with beautiful poinsettias, decorated trees, and Victorian figurines and dolls. The first thing to catch my eye was the pump organ from Stevens Organ and Piano Company. Music was an important part of Victorian times, and there were two more pianos in their parlors, as well as an Edison music box from 1892, which played the cylinder records of hard black wax. The song, “Echo All Over the World,” was on display in its original case from Edison Gold Moulded Records.

Another item of special interest was a hat rack just inside the front entrance. Not only was there a place to hang your hat, but also a beautiful mirror to make certain your hair was perfectly in place…’hat hair’ would not be acceptable! The plate for calling cards still held those of people who had visited the house many years ago.

The Castle LibraryIn the library, Captain William Holden had what they called the ‘first lap-top’ where he kept all his important paperwork and records. This was also the place, right next to the sitting room, where adults read while the younger ladies were having gentlemen callers. Even though their chairs were separated by a table, some of the elders in the family watched and listened carefully. The chairs themselves were intriguing as they sat very low to the floor so there was no possibility of a lady’s ankles showing, an act of disgrace during Victorian times.

Fascinating also were the items made of human hair. If a young lady or gentleman wanted to keep a remembrance of their special person close to them, they would weave their hair into a special design. Some were braided, then used in place of a watch chain to attach a pocket watch to the jacket, while others were intricately designed necklaces and broaches. All were quite beautiful.

All furnishings in The Castle were either original Victorian items, which had actually been used in the home, or furnishings from other Marietta homes of that time. Wood trim and doors were made of red oak downstairs where guests would be entertained, but upstairs were made of pine as only the family would be upstairs. According to the guide, one beautifully designed wall shelf had originally held a collection of Captain William Holden’s, who they called the original Spiderman. Captain Holden had collected 3,000 different spiders and actually kept them on display.

In the 1890’s, a water closet was built to include indoor bathroom facilities. This was originally upstairs only and could only be used by family members, while servants had to use the outdoor privy. Guests were not permitted upstairs so if they had been there long enough to need to use the bathroom, perhaps it was time for them to go home. Goodbye for now my friends!

If you want to hear more fascinating stories of The Castle, take a trip to Marietta on I-77 and use Exit 1 to Route 7 South.  Turn right on Fourth Street and The Castle is located on the hill at 418 Fourth Street. There is a handicap entrance in the rear with limited parking.

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