World Book Night U.S., a nonprofit organization, has launched its third annual campaign to encourage reading and giving, and the Washington County Library system is participating.

A half million free paperbacks of 38 different titles will be handed out across America all on one day — next April 23 — by enlisting volunteer book lovers to promote reading. They will give specially printed books to light or non-readers and to those without the means or access to them.

Find out more about World Book Night at, see a list of the titles that will be given away, and sign up now to be a giver. The deadline for submitting an application to be a giver is Jan. 5. Applicants must state where and to whom they intend to give out their books.

Volunteers may pick up their books to give away at any of the Washington County Library branches before April 23. Call 651-731-1320 with questions.

Forest Lake

Masquers Theatre to present 'Plaza Suite'

Tickets are now on sale for the Masquers Theatre production of Neil Simon's comedy "Plaza Suite" in dinner theater format at Vannelli's by the Lake, 55 Lake St. S., Forest Lake.

For its winter production. Masquers Theatre will perform Plaza Suite, one of the biggest hits from Broadway's most popular playwright, Neil Simon.

A richly comic play, Plaza Suite's immense popularity spawned two other "suite" plays: "California Suite" and "London Suite." The play is set in the late 1960s and takes place in three acts, each featuring a different couple who stay in room 719 at the Plaza Hotel overlooking Central Park in New York City.

Adult tickets are $36; seniors and student, $34; and children under 5 are $20. To order tickets or for menu information, go to or call 651-464-5823.

Denmark township

First Day Hike to celebrate new year

The New Year is about new resolutions and intentions, and to start it out right, Afton State Park is holding its annual First Day Hike. It runs from 10-11:30 a.m. on Jan. 1 at the park, 6959 Peller Av. S., Hastings.

Join the park naturalist for this new intentions walk to find one thing that inspires, intrigues or increases your awareness on this first day of the New Year — even if it is just another day to get some exercise.

For more information, call 651-436-5391.

Lake Elmo

Snowshoe lessons offered at park

Snowshoe lessons are being offered from 1-2:15 p.m. and 2:30-3:45 p.m. on Jan. 5 at Lake Elmo Park Reserve, 1515 Keats Av. N., Lake Elmo.

They will be led by a naturalist from Warner Nature Center, who will talk about the ancient art of snowshoeing while improving your well-being with a good dose of physical exercise and nature.

Class size is limited; registration is required; call 651-430-8370. The cost is $5 per person, and all equipment is provided. Dress for the weather and bring water.

The program is for those ages 9 and older.

Participants meet in the Eagle Point Trailhead parking lot at the Snowshoe Shack, across the road from the Nordic Center. In the case of inclement weather or poor snow conditions, the lessons may be canceled.

St. Croix Valley

Vocalists to show off 'Broadway's Best'

Vocalists Colleen Raye, Debbie O'Keefe and Katie Gearty, accompanied by an instrumental trio, will perform an all-new show, "Broadway's Best," at the Phipps Center for the Arts, 109 Locust St. Hudson, Wis.

The will feature selections from the popular musicals "My Fair Lady," "Phantom of the Opera," "West Side Story," "Chicago," "Mamma Mia," "Gypsy," "Grease" and more. Shows are scheduled at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Dec. 31.

Tickets are $23 for adults and $16 for students and youth. To order, go to


Family celebration rings in New Years

A celebration for families with children under 12 years old is planned for New Year's Eve and will include inflatable moonwalks, obstacle courses, mini golf, bingo, outdoor ice skating, raffle prizes and a DJ.

It is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 31 at Valley Crossing Community School, 9900 Park Crossing, Woodbury.

The fee is $7 per person if preregistered before noon on Dec. 30, or tickets can be purchased at the door after 5 p.m. for $9 per person — if they are still available.

Tickets must be purchased for everyone over the age of 2. Concessions will not be available, but feel free to bring your own if you wish.

Call the City of Woodbury Parks and Recreation Department at 651-714-3583 to purchase tickets.

Jim Anderson