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On the hunt for some Christmas Day fun? Not everything is closed!

12/24/2011 - 2:21pm


“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” as the lyrics to that song remind us in this season.

But Christmas Day can also be long and lonely for those who don’t celebrate it because of religion or custom. And even for those who do mark Christmas, the celebration may not last for hours.

But what is there to do on this one day of the year when everything is closed?

Or is it?

There are places that remain open on Christmas Day, and in the Jewish community, traditions have begun that feature special celebrations with a Jewish tilt.

Here, then, are some suggestions for Dec. 25 — and one for Christmas Eve, too.

And not one of these suggestions is for shopping, which may be a very big relief right around now…

Under the sea

Who would have guessed that the New Jersey Adventure Aquarium would open its doors on Christmas, ands it has for the last several years? And that means those who have been intending to get there — or who love the place so much that a visit is always welcome — can stroll through this amazing landmark with its gifts from the sea as a personal present.

Of special interest during the day is the Meet Scuba Santa, a special Christmas event in which Santa dives among the sea turtles, hammerhead sharks and stingrays. Photo of Santa Scuba Santa with visitors will go on during the all of Christmas Day.

There’s also a dance party with “Gill,” a character kids love at the Aquarium.

The undersea world is a delightful place to begin or finish off Christmas, 2011.

Tickets: $22.95 for adults; $17.95 for kids 2 to 12. Under 2 admitted free. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (856) 365-3300. www.adventure aquarium.com

Skate away

Ice skating on Christmas Day? Why not, when the Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn’s Landing is open and ready for skaters, and the season is short?

This is the site’s 18th season of operation, and if you’ve never experienced the exhilaration of this healthy outdoor sport, there’s no better time to try it than in the season of good will. After a few stumbles, you may have found your lifetime passion.

The Blue Cross RiverRink is at Columbus Boulevard and Market Street. Hours on Dec. 25 are 12:30 to 9 p.m. Admission is $8. Skate rental is $3. Parking is $10. (215) 923-6533. www.riverrink.com

Hanukkah fun

For those who are Jewish, Christmas Day has often meant the stereotypical movie and Chinese food — and for many, it still does.

More on those movies below.

But there’s also the chance to actually celebrate the eight-day festival of Hanukkah, which coincides with Christmas this year. And there’s the chance to also celebrate the Jewish heritage, in several activities throughout the region.

The Chabad of Cherry Hill and the Chabad of Medford are celebrating Hanukkah On Ice on Christmas Eve at the Flyers Skate Zone, 601 Laurel Oak Road, Voorhees, from 7 to 9 p.m. for those who want an active experience.

On Christmas Day, there is the annual Chabad Car Menorah Parade which begins at the Chabad Center, 1925 Kresson Road, Cherry Hill, and ends at 6 p.m. at Sahara Sam’s Oasis, 535 Route 73 North, Berlin.

Drivers place a large weatherproof menorah, the candelabrum that is the symbol of the holiday, and form a parade to mark this joyous festival. (856) 874-1500, Ext. 302 or e-mail info@TheChab adCenter.org

At the Katz Jewish Community Center at 1301 Springdale Road in Cherry Hill, there’s plenty of activity on Dec. 25. A special Hanukkah brunch for young ones is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and costs $5 per child.

A very special evening event for those over 15 is called “Latkes, Laughter and Lo Mein.” This blend of the traditional latkes of Hanukkah, and the non-traditional, but often observed, Chinese food menu, this time in the form of a kosher Chinese buffet, is amplified by a comedy show from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Center members pay $25; others pay $35 for the meal and show. Babysitting is available for children for $5 per child. (856) 424-4444, Ext. 1226. www.katzjcc.org

The National Museum of American Jewish History has opened its doors for decades, first in its original location, and now in its new one at Fifth and Market streets in Philadelphia.

There’s a full schedule of family-friendly activities on Dec. 25, from an exploration of this new treasure in the historic Independence Square area, to focused family games and performances.

One highlight is a laser science presentation that honors the legacy of Albert Einstein via a laser light show, appropriately during Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.

Laser shows will be at the 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

There will also be reruns via video clips of the beloved “The Goldbergs,” a TV series based on a Jewish family during the 1950’s.

Admission to the Museum is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors, 65 and over, and $5 for children 12 and under. Museum members and active military are admitted free. (215) 923-3811. www.nmajh.org

Silver screens

Finally, most area movie theaters are open after noon on Christmas Day. So now’s a chance to catch up on the new crop of films including some of the “hot” holiday releases, or the ones that got away a few weeks ago..

Current releases include “The Iron Lady” with Meryl Streep, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” with Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner for starters.

Check local theaters for schedules on Dec. 25.

And rest assured that most Chinese restaurants in the area await you with open arms.

So even if you’ve already had your Christmas repast, you still might want a change from the turkey or ham with something from column A or column B.


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