December 10, 2009


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The Creche is back

Volunteers look over the placement of figures in the Chestnut Hill community crèche, which is once again in front of Sovereign Bank, 8623 Germantown Ave.  At work last Monday were Antoinette DuBiel, Palladio owner Jay Susanin, and property owner Michael Young. (Photo by Pete Mazzaccaro)

Last year, a week before Janine Dwyer was preparing to set up the community crèche – the miniature scene depicting the birth of baby Jesus – the structure’s normal spot in front of Chestnut Hill’s Sovereign Bank branch was filled with a large white bear statue purchased during the community’s AbZOOlutely2 fundraiser.

That year the annual caroling at the crèche event, which Dwyer has led for many years, was forced from its traditional spot to a cold Monday night performance at the Fountain Plaza behind Borders Book Store. Dwyer was surprised and displaced but not despondent.

“I just decided then that, somehow, the situation would take care of itself,” she said Dwyer’s assessment turned out to be correct. The bear statue was moved, and Monday morning she and a group of volunteers began to install a restored crèche in its traditional spot again.

The return of the crèche, as Dwyer put it, is a story about cooperation.

Not long after the crèche was displaced, Dwyer was called by Vicky O’Connor, of Classic Management, a firm that manages the property for local businessman Michael Young, who bought the property in November last year. She told Dwyer that Young wanted to make sure the crèche returned in 2009.

Following that phone call, Jay Susanin moved his framing and interior design shop, Palladio, to a space in the rear of the Sovereign Bank property. He was aware that the crèche had been displaced and decided to help bring it back.

Susanin first got help from a carpenter friend of his, Steve Klosterman, who restored the crèche structure. “The crèche needed a holiday,” Susanin said, referring to its stay in storage last year. “It was in bad shape.”

Susanin, his wife and a landscaper he works with, Michael Calibraro, replanted the small garden space in front of the bank and planned a new garden planting for the spot where the crèche will be placed.

On Monday, a large group of volunteers had gathered to set the crèche up. Susanin and Dwyer were joined by Young, Miguel Olive, of Classic Management, restaurateurs Paul and Becky Roller, Ginny Wilson-Williams, of Cafette, and Antoinette DuBiel, who works with Dwyer at Dwyer’s hair salon.

“I’m thrilled,” Dwyer said, holding a cup of warm apple cider. “I’m thrilled because everybody made this happen.”

Caroling at the Creche will take place in front of the crèche at Sovereign Bank, 8623 Germantown Ave., at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21. Hot drinks and treats will be available at the Chestnut Hill Library during the event.



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