Piano music, stories of personal tea cups and a five-course luncheon, along with some private readings, added up to a successful first tea party for the Summit Hill Heritage Center recently.

More than 20 women from the area enjoyed the festivities at the heritage center during the afternoon event, reminiscent of tea parties of yore.

"I consider this first event to be a complete success," said heritage center President Debra Ranck, who served as a hostess with Elnora Clay. "We wanted to have a nice event to celebrate Mother's Day and I think everyone who attended definitely enjoyed themselves."

Donnas Miller and Paige Rex were among two of the happy patrons.

"We could not believe how far some people came to attend the event," Miller said. "We are happy the building is being used for the community and not being left to fall apart, Rex said.

The luncheon was prepared under the guidance of longtime chef Mike Ranck, with the desserts prepared by various supporters of the center. Courses included a shrimp hors d'oeuvres, bruschetta, salads, soups and various cakes and pastries for dessert.

The meal was served by board members and patrons of the center including Cathy Higgins, Andrea Mantz and her daughters.

Besides the stories offered about teacups by the attendees, Keith Bellham of Walnutport played piano music during the event. Jewelry readings were offered to those wanting one by guest Carol Miller.

Ranck said the Summit Hill Heritage Center is planning various events to reach all segments of the community in the near future. There have already been some "Under 21" dances held at the center as well as flea markets.

"We are planning a music series and some lecture series through 2010, as well as other special events for the benefit of the community," she said adding that the next two events will be a Good Times Karaoke Night non-alcoholic adult mixer and Sundaes and Music by the Hazleton Big Band in June.

"Later in the summer we plan to have Faculty Brass as well as a grand opening the first weekend in October," Ranck said, adding that the center will be starting a membership campaign and program in upcoming weeks.

"We want to provide a location in the community to celebrate the heritage of our area with cultural, social and educational events not just for Summit Hill, but the entire Panther Valley, Jim Thorpe and Tamaqua areas," Ranck said.

She added that all of the money raised by the heritage center is used to maintain the building and provide a support structure for the Summit Hill Food Bank, which has operated from the basement for several years.

Ranck said the board is concerned with making sure the food bank has a home and remains accessible to the over 140 families that rely on it each month.

"The food pantry struggled to find a place the last time it had to move and this church provided it to them. When the church closed, we felt the need to step in and do everything we could to make sure the pantry stays functioning and has a place in the community," she said.

The Summit Hill Heritage Center is in the midst of obtaining its 501c3 status and functions as a nonprofit service organization to enrich the lives and communities of the Panther Valley and surrounding areas through entertainment, educational and social events, with its funds going to maintain and administer the building to support organizations like the food pantry, Boy Scouts and Quilting Guild.

For more information, call (570) 645-9133 or visit www.summithillheritagecenter.com [1] on the web.