UTICA — The Kopernik Memorial Association, a local Polish cultural organization, is partnering with the Notre Dame Music Department for a special display and performing arts event at the Utica Public Library, Genesee Street, on Saturday, Dec. 8.

The event features an exhibit of Polish Szopka (shup kah), unique Nativity scenes, ornately rich and detailed in miniature using recycled materials, colored foils and trims. The hand-fashioned Christmas cribs are built to resemble the medieval architecture of Kraków. Creating these mini-masterpieces is a Polish tradition that dates to the 19th century. New this year are hands-on activities for children.

The schedule of events is as follows:

   • 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Public viewing of szopki and voting for “Viewer’s Choice Award”

   • 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Musical performances by Notre Dame Ensembles and Polish Koledy with John Ossowski

   • 12-2 p.m.: Activities for children ages 6-11: Make a Gwiazda (Polish Christmas Eve Star), Decorate a Star-shaped Piernik (Honey Cookie)

   • 1 p.m.: Szopka Competition Awards Presentation

   • 1:15 p.m.: Visit from St. Nick

* Special exhibit of Polish Vintage Regional Folk Wreaths

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments served. Polish items for sale.

According to Mary Currie, of the Kopernik Memorial Association, Notre Dame was the pilot school to help introduce the szopka to the greater community last year. But the program blossomed into more than the colorful Nativity creations. “It’s not just an art project,” she said. “It’s the coming together of faith and culture.” She said the Kopernik Memorial Association hopes that this becomes an activity that brings families together.

Utica’s Notre Dame Schools include Notre Dame Elementary School, which offers pre-K through sixth-grade education, and Notre Dame Jr./Sr. High School, a college-preparatory Catholic high school that provides tomorrow’s young men and women with a value-centered and academically-challenging environment. For more information, please visit www.notredameutica.org or call (315) 724-5118, ext. 35.