Dozens visit Sugar Plum Tea

Published 8:48 pm Monday, December 6, 2010

Liza-Bart Dolan hands out candy and goodies to Lily and Ryan Heck at the Sugar Plum Tea on Saturday.

Dozens of children dressed in their Christmas best to walk through the Enchanted Forest, visit the Enchanted Castle and meet the cast of “The Nutcracker” this weekend.

The Sugar Plum Tea at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts welcomed little boys and girls with their parents and grandparents into the grandly decorated ballroom at the center. The children had their photos taken with the Nutcracker, Clara, the Rat King and other characters from the ballet, got their autographs and took home gifts and crafts.

“We’re working very hard to provide activities to get the children in the community involved here, so that the next generation will have some memories of the center,” said Sharyn Flintoff, one of the co-chairs of the event.

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The Sugar Plum Tea and “The Nutcracker” serve that purpose by providing the tea to get the children excited about the show and then having an abridged version of the ballet afterward.

“It’s an abbreviated performance, so it’s strictly to accommodate the children,” Flintoff said. “They can sit through it without getting antsy.”

Children at the Sugar Plum Tea were greeted by princesses upon entering the ballroom. They then had their pictures taken with the Sugar Plum Princess in the Castle of Enchantment, made autograph books for the cast to sign and chose candy and small gifts to take home. They also dined on punch, mandarin orange tea and a variety of sweets.

“When the doors open up to let the children barge in, you can hear them gasp,” said Susan Rawls, who also co-chairs the event. “They get so excited about seeing the decorations.”

The children at the event admired the costumed ballet performers, shyly approaching and asking for autographs from children not much older than themselves.

“The performers are actually children, also,” Flintoff said.

The Sugar Plum Tea and Ballet Virginia’s “The Nutcracker” are traditions at the center.