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Farewell to Downton Abbey Valentine Tea Party

When: Saturday, Feb. 6, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: St. James United Methodist Church, 646 D.W. Hwy, Merrimack
Tickets: $8 adults, $5 children 10 and under. Call 424-7459 to make a reservation.
Visit: stjames-umchurch.org




From Merrimack to Yorkshire
Valentine’s Tea takes on Downton Abbey

02/04/16
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



 When February rolls around each year, it’s time for the members of St. James United Methodist Church to ready the fellowship hall to host their annual Valentine’s tea, a tradition at the church for over 16 years. The only difference this year is the tea’s theme: a farewell to Downton Abbey.

“We thought it would be fun to dress up in some Downton Abbey period clothing, so we’re hoping to decorate our fellowship hall to appear like a 1920s room,” said Carol Marrone, who helped organize the event. “It’ll be not so formal that people don’t want to come, but we’re hoping that some of the people in the church will dress up as some of the characters.”
One couple who’s already on board will preside as Lord and Lady Grantham and greet people as they come through the door, while Marrone’s co-organizer will be the dowager countess for the afternoon. 
Marrone personally always wears a hat to the tea, because “that’s what you do.”
The idea to host a tea themed around the popular British drama was inspired by a church in Peterborough that held a similar and very successful event. St. James decided the timing was right for fans of the show to celebrate its final season.
“It’s such a popular show that so many people in the area watch it and are almost addicted to it like I am,” Marrone said. 
Plants, furniture and table settings will reflect the era the show is set in, and Marrone said they hope to have a photobooth in one of the Sunday school rooms set up for guests to take pictures in their period dress or tea time attire.
“We have china cups and saucers that have been donated by the church members over the years so that it’s a little on the formal side,” she said. “Instead of the same old same old, it’s a nice way for young people to learn more about the proper way to do things — a little etiquette thrown in there.”
In addition to members of the Crawley family, some of the church’s young adults will dress as maids and waitstaff to serve the tea, which is modeled after the British tradition. Cucumber sandwiches, scones, cream puffs, mini quiche and other finger foods are on the menu, with gluten-free items available by request. 
In years past the tea has drawn about 100 guests, and Marrone hopes that given the theme, a broader demographic will turn out this time around.
“I have heard of senior citizens watching the show, but I also know groups of teachers and younger people that are really fascinated with this program, so I think because we’ve themed it for Downton Abbey it might draw some more people,” she said. 





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