The Lansford Historical Society will present a special holiday musical program free to the public at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 20, at the society headquarters above the Panther Valley Public Library at 117-119 E. Bertsch St. in Lansford.

The Program is titled "A Victorian Christmas in Lansford" and will be followed by an open house at the new Lansford Historical Society Museum. The program and the new museum are located on the second floor above the Panther Valley Public Library.

According to Steve Brunda, president of the society, the building in which the library and the museum are located was formerly known as the Lansford United Methodist Church. The former congregation donated the building to the society in 1998. The society has since completed major renovations to the building to adapt it for the public library and museum.

The program begins will be held in the former church sanctuary which will be decorated as it might have looked during a Christmas in the Victorian era of the late 1800s. Swags of greens with pine cones and bows adorn the ceiling of the sanctuary, as was popular in churches during that period. Oil lamps, candle stands and a candle chandelier will illuminate the stained glass windows and pressed tin walls and ceiling. Poinsettias, Christmas trees and other decorations will adorn the altar area.

The special holiday musical program and sing-along gets under way with traditional Christmas music played on several different historical musical instruments. The main feature will be the church's original pipe organ. Other musical selections will be performed on an early antique pump organ, which once served the Old Welsh Church in Lansford, and a piano. Chris Opresko, Lansford, will be the featured performer on the instruments.

A special holiday message will be delivered by pastors of two local congregations who will be dressed in period costumes for the Victorian Christmas celebration. Members of the Eckley Players theatrical group from Eckley Miners Village near Hazleton, will also participate in the program wearing clothing from the era.

Following the holiday musical performances and service, everyone is invited to the first open house at the new Lansford Historical Society Museum, located on the same floor, and also enjoy the free refreshments, which will include a special holiday punch, hot chocolate, and home-baked items and cookies. Donations of baked goods are being accepted in advance from anyone who would like to donate to this community event.

The establishment of a local history museum in Lansford has been a longtime dream of members of the historical society. Members have been working toward this goal for over a year and are finally ready to open its doors. Although it is still a work in progress, it is well along its way to serving as a museum and repository for historical artifacts, photographs or records from the Lansford area's past.

People attending the holiday program will get the first opportunity to check out the new displays which have been set up in glass display cases or mounted on the walls. More permanent exhibits are planned in the coming months. The society is accepting donations of artifacts, photos or records relating to the history of the Lansford area for display in the new museum.

For more information on this free holiday event or to donate baked goods for the open house, contact Dale Freudenberger at (610) 377-4063 or Germaine Brunda at (570) 645-2402.