Suzanne Zimmerman, of Chestnut Hill, is one of many wreath makers at last year’s Winter in the Wissahickon.

Suzanne Zimmerman, of Chestnut Hill, is one of many wreath makers at last year’s Winter in the Wissahickon.

by Denise Larrabee

Begin the holiday season with the Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) at Valley Green Inn on Saturday, December 7, at Winter in the Wissahickon.

This annual event offers everyone the opportunity to enjoy what nature has to offer during the holiday season. Participants decorate their own balsam fir wreath for the holidays while enjoying chestnuts roasting on an open fire, hot apple cider, and a light lunch/breakfast buffet.

Environmental Educator Trish Fries from the Wissahickon Environmental Center (WEC) will lead a Winter Woods Hike and a workshop on crafting nature gifts for animals.

Winter in the Wissahickon is a holiday tradition for many families who wish to decorate their own holiday wreaths. FOW supplies the balsam fir wreaths and natural ornaments for decorating them, such as western juniper with blue berries, variegated holly with red berries, incense cedar with yellow tips, and assorted pinecones. These evergreens will last a long time and can be ground into mulch or composted after the holidays.

Wildlife in winter

At Winter in the Wissahickon, children are invited to make nature crafts that can be left for wildlife to feed on during the winter.

“We’ll attach high quality bird seed and suet to pine cones, and string cranberries and peanuts,” says Fries from WEC. According to Fries, one can observe a number of birds throughout the winter months: cardinals, nuthatches, woodpeckers, tufted titmice, chick-a-dees, and blue jays. “Great horned owls and screech owls may be heard in the winter, though seldom seen,” she says.

Birds are not the only wildlife that bird seed and suet will attract. “Squirrels will also eat bird food,” says Fries. “In fact, they usually find our natural ornaments made with bird seed before the birds do!”

Two workshops

This year, FOW is offering two decorating sessions so more families can join in the fun. Choose between 10 a.m. to noon or 1 to 3p.m. when you purchase your tickets.

Families wishing to attend the Winter Woods Hike and/or the workshop for crafting nature gifts for animals should arrive at Valley Green Inn by 11:30 a.m. You may participate in the hike or workshop regardless of which decorating session you attend.

Tickets to Winter in the Wissahickon are $30 for adults and $10 for children, with a special family package of $75 for two adults and two children. Price includes one wreath per adult or family and all food and beverages. This is a rain or shine event and tickets are limited. To purchase tickets, visit www.fow.org or call 215-247-0417.

Valley Green Inn is located on Forbidden Drive in Wissahickon Valley Park. For more information contact FOW Outreach Manager Sarah Marley at marley@fow.org.

Aid for the FOW

Proceeds from Winter in the Wissahickon will benefit the Friends of the Wissahickon, a non-profit organization founded in 1924 and dedicated to preserving the Wissahickon Valley. FOW works in partnership with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to restore historical structures throughout the park, eliminate invasive plant species, monitor watershed management issues, and restore trails throughout the park system with its Sustainable Trails Initiative. You can follow FOW on Facebook and Twitter. For more information or to become a member, visit www.fow.org.

Denise Larrabee is Newsletter Editor for Friends of the Wissahickon.