At this time of year, it seems more personal to write a note of thanks to all the readers of this blog for their comments, corrections and suggestions during the year. It's been a busy year in Bemidji for the arts and we are so fortunate to have some many people who are willing to share their talents with us. Bemidji Community Theater just completed a collaboration with the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in a new version of "Christmas Carol" the musical. Unfortunately too many people were disappointed by being turned away at the door for the houses were full most nights. It was a rousing success and would be Broadway bound if only it was at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and not the historic Chief Theater. While writing this blog, I am listening to ?The Nutcracker Suite? and remembering the days when I worked for New Jersey Ballet and the 19 performances we had each year at the Paper Mill Playhouse---just added a bit more stress to the holiday season for us but what magic for the audiences. Some of the soloists were the same as those who danced at Lincoln Center. Most of the dancers I worked with are retired now or running their own ballet schools. So it was especially nice to hear that First City Dance "Nutcracker" played to full houses this past weekend. Congratulations to Cathy Marcotte and her dancers. Thanks to all those who sang for the Bemidji Chorale, the Madrigals and the Varsity Singers. You are gave us (the Bemidji community) still another reason to be proud. Thanks to those nameless fellows who give their time and talents to spread joy as Santa (helpers) and to those with the generosity to pay off the lay-a-ways of total strangers. Thanks to all those who donated food to the Bemidji Food Shelf. And thanks to my former boss and editor Molly Miron for giving this novice a chance to write for the Pioneer (that was a penultimate thanks). And thanks to my new boss and editor,Steve Wagner who has kept me on and raised the bar a bit. Speaking about raising the bar, there will be some changes to the arts and entertainment sections coming in January. The arts column will go back to Sunday,the day it was originally printed a few years ago, and the Wednesday (or maybe Thursday) feature will be observations, previews of plays or events, profiles of people in the news and the arts (am already working hard at lining up interviews) and whatever else that comes along that will be of interest to the arts community and Bemidijians at large. There will be a revival of Steve Saari's play "Ruby Lips Above the Water" in January.This is a serious play that explores how we react and rejoice with those who are developmentally disabled as they struggle to have a "normal" life in our society. I went to see it twice when it played at The Chief a couple of years ago and look forward to seeing it again with a somewhat different cast. It will be interesting to see these actors' interpretations of the roles. One of my favorites in that show was Cate Belleveau, she was amazing! Cate is planning on a one-women show "Shirley Valentine" in February with the Mask and Rose Women?s Theater Collective. Not to be out done, the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra will present "History Meets Music: Up Close and Unplugged" with Clay Jenkinson as Robert Oppenheimer in February. This year saw the passing of two men who added much to the fabric of the arts scene in Bemidji: Don MacKinnon a brass player with the Bemidji Area Community Band passed away in November..Don and his wife Ginny retired to Bemidji only a few years ago and they both gave much to the community in volunteer efforts. Dick Lueben, a long time member and treasurer of Bemidji Community Theater (which just began its 30th year in Bemidji theater) passed away in December.Dick was very active in other community organizations as well will be missed by many. Again thanks to you all and keep those comments coming, especially those with ideas for feature articles. Sometimes what interests me doesn't peak the interest of others,I've found. So keep me posted on what you?d like to see in the upcoming blogs and features. You can always reach me at the Pioneer by email email@example.com. May we all find peace, love and good health in the new year and a wish for a rousing summer season at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse with its new artistic director. Buy those coupon books now for yourself or as presents for others and let's show those folks how much Bemidji values it's summer stock offerings.Click here That's all she wrote, folks!