Forget the 12 days of Christmas. This region is poised for an entire month of holiday events and festivities — ranging from the very familiar to the brand new and a combination of the two.


McCarter Theater is premiering a newly designed “A Christmas Carol” and giving audiences a new look at Charles Dickens’ old tale of redemption — as retold in playwright David Thompson’s popular adaptation. Director Adam Immerwahr — McCarter’s former associate artistic director and director of the hits “The Understudy” and “The Mousetrap” — is at the helm of the renewed holiday tradition that mixes Dickens’ mid-19th-century world with today’s state-of-the-art special effects.

The new look also includes a new Scrooge, veteran Philadelphia-based stage and film actor Greg Wood and will employ an ensemble of community members. The high spirited show runs December 9 through 31. $26 to $77. 91 University Place, Princeton. 609-258-2787 or

Crossroads Theater Company in New Brunswick is reviving another classic, Langston Hughes’ 1961 “Black Nativity.” Last produced by Crossroads in 1985, the show uses African dance and storytelling, traditional Christmas songs, original music, and gospel music to retell the story of Christ’s birth. Featured in the cast is R&B recording artist and 2017 Grammy nominee Tony Terry. Show times are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Saturday and Sunday matinees. $45. 7 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. 732-545-8100 or

Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope’s “Murder for Two: Holiday Edition” is just the thing for those looking for something a little less merry but still bright. Its producers call it “a zany blend of classic musical comedy” and a “whodunit.” Its parent is the critically praised off-Broadway 90-minute show — the two-actor homage to murder mysteries — “Murder For Two.”

And the new one — having its world premiere at Bucks — follows the winning formula and reunites the original composers and librettists, Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, and features Brett Ryback as the investigator and Kinosian as all of the suspects. Matinees and evening shows are December 9 through 31. $30 to $69. 70 South Main Street, New Hope. 215-862-2121 or

The Arts Council of Princeton is the venue for another theatrical look at the season: playwright Charles Evered’s “An Actor’s Carol.” It’s the Princeton-connected playwright, screenplay writer, and film director’s take on “A Christmas Carol,” where an actor who has performed the role of Scrooge one too many times now encounters three ghosts of his own.

The one-night only stage reading, including Evered’s wife, is set for Friday, December 16, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission or $10 for Arts Council members and are available at the door 30 minutes before show time on a first-come, first-served basis. 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. 609-924-8777 or

Kelsey Theater at Mercer County Community College is maintaining its own traditions of introducing young audiences to holiday theater with its annual “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” based on the Clement Moore poem that transformed St. Nick into the elf-like Santa. The show runs Friday, December through Sunday, December 2 through 4. $12 for adults, $10 for children, seniors, and students.

“A Very Kelsey Christmas Musical Christmas variety show” follows on Saturday and Sunday, December 10 and 11. The show uses a 1950s live variety television format and features with holiday songs, skits, and an appearance by St. Nick. $14 to $18. 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor. 609-570-3333 or

Off-Broadstreet Theater is raising spirits with “Altar Boyz,” the 2005 off-Broadway musical comedy about a fictitious Christian boy-band presenting its final “Raise the Praise” concert. True to OBT’s approach, the offering is sweetened with desserts and beverages. The weekend-only shows run through December 31. $27 to $31.50 includes dessert. 5 South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell. 609-466-2766 or

At Bristol Riverside Theater, look for “An American Christmas Songbook,” musical director Keith Baker and the theater’s concert band’s annual program of seasonal favorites, including hits from Broadway and film classics, December 8 through 18. $10-$47. 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol. 215-785-0100 or

Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey is bringing back its full-stage production of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” based on the narrative by poet Dylan Thomas. It opens Wednesday, November 30, and runs through Sunday, January 1. $32 to $62. 36 Madison Avenue, Madison. 973-408-5600 or


American Repertory Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” — one of the nation’s oldest traditions at 52 consecutive years — continues its regional presence with productions at the War Memorial Building in Trenton on Saturday, December 3. $20 to $45. 1 Memorial Drive, Trenton. 877-987-6487 or

The production boasting new sets, new choreography, and a cast of more than 100 then arrives with a live orchestra at the State Theater in New Brunswick, Friday through Sunday, December 16 to 18. $35 to $75. 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. 732-246-7469 or

Roxey Ballet is currently running its own version of “The Nutcracker” at Kendall Theater at the College of New Jersey with performances Saturday through Monday, December 3 through 5. Directed by company co-founder Mark Roxey, the show features more than 150 professional, pre-professional, and local dancers and actors and more than 200 costumes. $15 to $52.50. Kendall Theater at the College of New Jersey, 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing. 609-397-7616 or

Princeton Youth Ballet — formerly DanceVision — marks its 11th year as a pre-professional company with an original interpretation of “The Nutcracker,” choreographed by Risa Kaplowitz, at Princeton High School Performing Arts Center, Saturday and Sunday, December 10 and 11. $15 to $25. 151 Moore Street, Princeton, 609-948-8065. or 800-838-3006.

New Jersey Youth Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” arrives at Kelsey Theater, Friday through Sunday, December 16 through 18, with an hour-long narrated version designed as a child-friendly introduction to theater going. $14 to $16. 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor. 609-570-3333 or


The Arts Council of Princeton is swinging into the mood on Friday December 2, with the Eric Mintel Quartet’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The family-friendly interactive jazz concert includes classic scenes from the “A Charlie Brown Christmas” TV program as well as familiar holiday tunes, such as “Silent Night,” “Christmas Tree,” and “The Christmas Song.” Two shows at 7 and 9 p.m., $15 general admission with first come, first served tickets available at the door 30 minutes before show time. 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. 609-924-8777 or

The Hopewell Valley Chorus is presenting a concert with themes of peace, light, love, and serenity at St. James Church in Hopewell on Friday, December 2, at 7:30 p.m. The program includes Berlioz’s “Nowel,” Brahms’ “In Stiller Nacht,” Rachmaninoff’s “Ave Maria,” Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia,” and Whitacre’s “Seal Lullaby.” Hendricks Davis of Princeton performs the solo in U2’s “MLK,” a pensive, lullaby-like tribute to Martin Luther King. $12 to $15. 115 East Delaware Avenue, Pennington. 609-737-3177 or

The Capital Singers of Trenton, a semi-professional chorus, presents “Winters Songs 10” on Sunday, December 4, at 4 p.m. at Sacred Heart Church in Trenton. Richard M. Loatman conducts the two-part program that includes music by Rachmaninoff, Bach, and Telemann in the first half and folk and gospel-infused Christmas music in the second.

Featured soloists are Deborah Ford, winner of the Savannah Onstage Competition and a Hamilton Township Schools music instructor, and Keith Spencer, a concert and stage performer who frequently appears at the Bristol Riverside Theater. $20 in advance, $22 at the door. 343 South Broad Street, Trenton. 609-620-0160 or

Princeton University Chapel Choir will hold its annual Advent Concert on Sunday, December 4, at 2:30 p.m., and — with what has become a beloved area tradition to many — the Messiah Sing, where the audience joins a chamber orchestra to sing selections from Handel’s “Messiah,” on Monday, December 12. Both events are under the direction of Penna Rose, $5 for general public, free for students. The free annual Candlelight Service of Lesson and Carols is Wednesday, December 14, at 7:30 p.m. 609-258-3654 or

Princeton Symphony Orchestra has two holiday offerings. First is the free family friendly “BRAVO! Holiday Concert” on Saturday, December 10, at 3 p.m., at the Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street. Designed to introduce young audiences to the orchestra, youngsters will get an introduction to the instruments and hear a variety of musical styles.

The orchestra’s “Holiday POPS!” follows on Saturday, December 17, at Richardson Auditorium, at 4 and 7 p.m. Part concert and part show, the orchestra will be joined by the Princeton High School Choir and the New Jersey Tap Ensemble to perform moments from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” Victor Herbert’s “Babes in Toyland,” and seasonal favorites. Rossen Milanov conducts. $25 to $50. Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus. 609-497-0020 or

Princeton Pro Musica brings the sound of the season to the Trenton War Memorial on Sunday, December 11, at 4 p.m. Conductor Ryan James Brandau leads a program of carols, holiday songs, and selections from the Christmas music of Handel and Bach. The well regarded area group will be joined by another area treasure, Trenton Children’s Chorus. $10 to $60. 1 Memorial Drive, Trenton.

Princeton Girlchoir will provide two free events. The first is the Quaker Bridge Mall Holiday Sing, Saturday, December 3, at 11 a.m. The second is A Midwinter Mosaic, at Mayo Hall, The College of New Jersey, on Saturday, December 10.

The Princeton Singers presents its annual “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” Saturday, December 3, at 6 p.m. at Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street. Noted Hightstown novelist and writer in resident at the Peddie School Paul Watkins provides the reading of Dylan Thomas’ poetic recollection of a Welsh Christmas. Composer and artistic director Steven Sametz conducts. The event is recommended for ages 10 and up, $10 to $25. 866-846-7464 or

The American Boychoir has two December concerts set in the region. First is a “conversation and performance” collaboration with WWFM radio, NPR music commentator, and “What Makes It a Great Concert?” series organizer Rob Kapilow at Nassau Presbyterian Church on Monday, December 5, at 7 p.m. Kapilow leads choir and members through a conversation about and a performance of 20th-century English composer Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols.” $5 to $15.

Then it’s the annual “Home for the Holidays” concert at Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus, on Sunday, December 18, at 4 p.m. $10 to $50. Both events are just one of the many East Coast stops for the world-famous organization with long ties to the Princeton area.

Boheme Opera of New Jersey brings its fifth annual “Boheme Opera Holiday” to Grounds For Sculpture on Friday, December 9, at 7 p.m. This year the region’s only opera company will present a program of music by Mozart, Verdi, and Puccini to complement the current exhibition, “Elyn Zimmerman: Wind, Water, Stone,” and emphasize the artist’s exploration of the “healing and destructive” powers of the elements. Also on the program: traditional holiday music and a sing along. Free with park admission, $10 to $18. 126 Sculptors Way, Hamilton. 609-584-7800 or

New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus’ “Holidays Among the Stars — A Celestial Celebration” appears at Princeton United Methodist Church on Friday, December 16, at 8 p.m. The group’s new artistic director and conductor, Sarah Michal, leads holiday favorites in a program that includes “White Christmas,” “Behold that Star,” and “We Need a Little Christmas.” $15 to $20. 7 Vandeventer Avenue.

The New Jersey Symphony Chamber Orchestra and the Montclair State University Singers present George Frideric Handel’s 1742 masterpiece “Messiah” at Richardson Auditorium in Princeton on Friday, December 16, at 7:30 p.m. Soloists are soprano Patricia Schuman who has performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Glimmerglass, and La Scala; mezzo-soprano Mary Phillips, Metropolitan, San Francisco, and Dallas opera companies; tenor Ryan MacPherson, Center for Contemporary Opera in New York and Teatro Real in Madrid; and bass-baritone David Pittsinger, Washington National Opera and Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.

Past music director for the New York City Opera, George Manahan, conducts the oratorio that has become a Christmas-tide favorite. Produced in partnership with McCarter Theater, tickets range from $25 to $80. 609-258-2787 or

Pianist Stewart Goodyear presents a solo piano transcription of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” at McCarter on Friday, December 16, at 8 p.m. Goodyear last appeared at McCarter with his presentation of all of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas, his adaptation of the “Nutcracker” has been critically recognized for both “his ingenious handling of Tchaikovsky’s orchestration in terms of the keyboard’s sonorities” and his “close attention to details and tone colors that give the music its fantastic character.” $50. 609-258-2787 or

Voices Chorale’s seasonal offering is “Christmastide: The Festive Classics” offered at three different venues: Hopewell Presbyterian Church, 80 West Broad Street, Sunday, December 11, at 3 p.m.; Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 801 West State Street, Trenton, Saturday, December 17, 3 p.m.; and Miller Chapel, Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street, Sunday, December 18, at 3 p.m.

Lyn Ransom conducts her 30th and final Christmas Concert with the Voices Chorale and Sotto Voce, with special guests, soprano Rochelle Ellis and the Trenton Children’s Chorus. The program includes the conductor’s favorite Christmas music, including “Carol of the Bells,” Mendelssohn’s “How Brightly Shines the Morningstar,” and a medley of carols arranged by Westminster Choir College professor R. Doug Helvering. $25 to $40 for the Hopewell and Princeton performance, free for the Trenton presentation.

At Westminster Choir College the celebrated Westminster Concert Bell Choir, conducted by Kathleen Ebling Shaw, opens a holiday series in Bristol Chapel on Saturday and Sunday, December 3 and 4, at 4 p.m. The concert, “A Child is Born,” features familiar carols and children’s favorites, including “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” “The First Noel,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and 20th-century American composer Leroy Anderson’s popular “Sleigh Ride.” $20 to $25.

Westminster’s annual “Evening of Readings and Carols” is set for three Princeton University Chapel presentations: Friday, December 9, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, December 10, at 3 and 8 p.m. The popular event includes music for choir, organ, and brass interspersed with seasonal readings. Highlights of this year’s program include James Whitbourn’s “Missa Carolae,” Dan Forrest’s “Festival First Noel,” Andrew Carter’s arrangement of “I Saw Three Ships,” and an audience sing-along.

Tickets for the Friday and Saturday evening performances are $70, $55 and $40. General admission tickets for the Saturday afternoon performance are $45. Patrons contributing an additional $25 to the Westminster scholarship program will receive preferred seating. 609-921-2663 or

And once again New Jersey Capital Philharmonic Orchestra will put the final star on the holiday season with its annual New Year’s Eve concert on Saturday, December 31, at 8 p.m. Under the direction of Daniel Spalding the concert — also heard on WWFM radio — will emphasize the light and include Johann Strauss’ “The Beautiful Danube Waltz,” dances from Leonard Bernstein’s “On the Town,” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” performed by guest pianist Leon Bates, who has performed with such acclaimed musical organization as the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Boston Pops, the Orchetre de France, and others, $10 (students) to $75. Patriots Theater, 1 Memorial Drive, Trenton.

Princeton United Methodist Church presents “The Sound of Christmas” on Sunday, December 4, at 5 p.m. at 7 Vandeventer Avenue. The Handbell Choir and the Handbell Ensemble perform, directed by Hyosang Park. Freewill offering. 609-924-2613 or www.princeton­

Bravura Philharmonic Orchestra — the West Windsor organization founded in 2007 by conductor and pianist Chiu-Tze Lin — presents “Hope for the Holidays” at Princeton Alliance Church, 20 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro, on Sunday, December 4, at 7 p.m. The program includes the world premiere of New Jersey-born composer and Bravura violinist Matthew Liu’s “A Christmas Hope” as well as Dvorak’s “New World Symphony,” and a holiday sing along. $18 to $20.

House Tours

Drumthwacket, the official mansion to New Jersey governors, is offering several days of free tours to view the state’s first house in high Jersey style — thanks to the state garden clubs that decorated the rooms: Keyport Garden Club, Morristown Garden Club, Mountain Lakes Garden Club, Somerset Hills Garden Club, Stony Brook Garden Club, West Trenton Garden Club, and Warren Garden Club.

The grand 19th-century Greek revival-style house is open on Tuesday, December 6, Sunday, December 11, Wednesday, December 14, and Sunday, December 18, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The tours are confined only to the first floor and are unguided, but docents are available to answer questions. Reservations are on a first-come-first-served basis and there is free on-site parking. 352 Stockton Street,

Morven Museum & Garden’s Festival of Trees runs through January 8 and decks the halls and galleries of the Colonial-era building with holiday trees decorated by local business, clubs, and organizations — including Contemporary Garden Club, Dogwood Garden, Garden Club of Princeton, Keris Farms, Jazams, McCarter Theater, Princeton Public Library, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Stony Brook Garden Club, VanDerveer Designs, and the West Trenton Garden Club.

Related festivities include a holiday party on Sunday, December 4, 5 to 7:30 p.m., to support Morven’s programs. Tickets are $150 per person and must be reserved in advance. There’s also the annual photo-op filled “Morning with Santa” on Saturday, December 10, from 10 a.m. to noon. Tickets are $25 per family (up to 6 people). Morven is open Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $5 to $6. 55 Stockton Street, Princeton. 609-924-8144 or

Holly Nights at Pennsbury Manor, the annual tour of the home of William Penn, returns on Thursday and Friday, December 1 and 2. The event includes a candlelight tour of the 18th-century manor house and grounds illuminated by bonfires and brightened by carolers. Hours are 6 to 9 p.m. $6 to $14. 400 Pennsbury Memorial Road, Morrisville, Pennsylvania. 215-946-0400 or

Christmas at the Kuser Farm Mansion in Hamilton starts with the annual Winter Wonderland festivities on Friday and Saturday, December 2 and 3, 6 to 9 p.m. The free event includes a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, visits to “Santa’s Village” (including free pictures with Santa); rides on the “Holiday Express Train,” a petting zoo, tours of the decorated Kuser Mansion, visits to the Jersey Valley Model Railroad Club display, musical entertainment, food vendors, and more.

And 45-minute tours of the mansion decorated in Victorian style are set for Sunday, December 4, 4 to 8 p.m.; Wednesday, December 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Wednesday to Friday, December 7 to 9, 6 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, December 10, 4 to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, December 11, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Look out for Santa visiting the mansion on Saturday, December 10, from 4 to 7 p.m., and Sunday, December 11, from noon to 3 p.m.

And don’t forget the extensive New Jersey Valley Model Railroad display open Friday and Saturday, December 2 and 3, 6 to 9 p.m.; Sunday, December 4, 4 to 8 p.m.; Wednesday, December 7, 6 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, December 10, 4 to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, December 11, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tours and programs are free. 390 Newkirk Avenue, Hamilton. 609-890-3630 or

The 50th Mill Hill Holiday House Tour in Trenton is Saturday, December 3, noon to 5 p.m. About 15 to 20 homes in the 19th century neighborhood will open their doors and invite people to come in from the cold to take a look around. Tickets are $15 to $20; proceeds benefit the Old Mill Hill Society. Tour central is located at Artworks, 19 Everett Alley and South Stockton Street, Trenton. 609-815-1359 or

The 1719 William Trent House, built by the man who lent the city his name, brings in the season with its annual Green Sale and Holiday House Tour, Friday and Saturday, December 2 and 3, 12:30 to 5 p.m. The event features Garden Club of Trenton’s decoration of the 18th-century home of one of Trenton’s early settlers and the opportunity to purchase holiday table arrangements and decorated and undecorated wreaths, Christmas Trees, and loose fresh greens. Event proceeds will benefit the curatorial work and educational programming of the nonprofit Trent House Association.

The Trent House will also help wind down the season with its annual Hogmanay, Saturday, December 31, 1 to 3 p.m. Based on the New Year celebrations in Trent’s native Scotland, Hogmanay incorporates a theme of renewal and features music, wish making, and hot milled cider and cookies, free. 15 Market Street, Trenton.

Howell Living History Farm’s annual “Christmas on the Farm” is Saturday, December 3. Festivities include the noontime arrival of St. Nick and his sleigh, cookies, horse drawn wagon rides, a tree cutting, and old time tree decorating with ear corn, pinecones, and other natural ornaments. Gift baskets, sleigh bells, wreaths, and other handmade items will be available for sale in the gift shop. Howell Farm is also an official drop off site for Toys for Tots. Events start at around 10 a.m. Free admission and parking. 101 Hunter Road, Titusville. 609-737-3299 or

Rockingham Historic Site’s annual candlelight Christmas tours are Sunday, December 11, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The house is where George Washington stayed while the United States Congress met in Princeton, and the tour highlights 18th-century Christmas traditions and special themes related to the era. Advance tour reservations must be made by calling 609-683-7136. Tours will be offered at least every half-hour with 3:30 p.m. being the last tour. Route 603, Rockingham. Free.

The Johnson Ferry House at New Jersey’s Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville presents its annual lantern walking tour on Friday, December 23. This only-in-this-region event takes visitors by lantern light from that spot where Washington’s army landed to the 18th century home of the farmers and ferry operators who welcomed them. Tours are scheduled at 7 and 7:30 p.m. $5 to $10, reservations required, rain or shine. 355 Washington Crossing Pennington Road, Titusville. 609-737-2515 or



Since some of the most important battles of the Revolutionary War occurred in the Trenton-Princeton region on and around Christmas and New Years, the area celebrates both the season and its unique place in history. Here are several events that breathe life into the past — and offer a chance to get out with the kids or friends.

The Old Barracks, built by the British in 1758 during the French and Indian War, welcomes the occupation of the Revolutionary War British and Hessian troops in Trenton on Saturday, December 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Throughout that the day visitors will have the opportunity to meet and watch members of the 17th Regiment of Infantry as its return the barracks to just days before the decisive 1776 Battle of Trenton.

Visitors will be able to see military drills, musket demonstrations, outdoor camp cooking, uniform maintenance, and daily activities of a British soldier in America. Founded in 2002, the 17th Regiment of Infantry was established in 2002 is a collective that researches, recreates historically accurate uniforms and equipment, and provides living history displays to vividly teach and engage the public with history. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, and free for active duty military personnel, members of the Old Barracks Association, and children 5 and under. 101 Barrack Street, Trenton. 609-396-1776 or

The annual recreation of George Washington’s Christmas Day crossing of the Delaware River to take Trenton — at the very location the historical event occurred — draws thousands of visitors. And while it is a one-of-a-kind regional event, there are actually two occasions to view it. Both start on the Pennsylvania side of the river.

The annual dress rehearsal crossing on Sunday, December 11, provides an opportunity for history lovers unable to be on hand on Christmas Day to witness Washington and troops on the river. The day is a festival that includes opportunities to visit historic buildings and meet re-enactors. The crossing rehearsal is at 1 p.m., but the park gates open 10 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. The day also serves as a fundraiser, so visitors will be making an investment for future crossings. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for children 5 to 11, and free for children under five.

The annual Christmas Day crossing re-enactment is at 1 p.m., but come early to march with the troops, tour buildings, watch the troops gather, and join fellow countrymen and visitors waiting for the cannon shot that signals the boats to depart from Pennsylvania. Early arrival will also help secure a parking place or a spot on the New Jersey side to watch the troops arrive.

The popular regional events are free and centered at Washington Crossing Historic Park, located at the intersection of Routes 32 and 532, Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. 215-493-4076 or

Patriots Week returns to downtown Trenton on Monday, December 26, with biggest Revolutionary War re-enactment event anywhere. The weeklong event includes tours of historic spots, camp re-enactments, and the two-part Battle of Trenton, puppet theater performances, a Colonial era ball, and more. While many events take place at or near the Old Barracks, one of the area’s historical treasures, the two recreated battles — featuring re-enactors with era uniforms and weaponry — take place on the actual sites of the original battles. For more up to date information about Patriots Week, visit

With plenty of offerings, it all promises to keep the holidays merry and bright.

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