Best Bets: Beats by Girlz celebration, Tom and Jerrys for CHUM, and more

Find something to do this week in the Northland.

A Beats by Girlz Duluth student pushes a button on an Ableton Push to create music during a class held in 2021.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Our guide to holiday events is full of festive shenanigans. Here are six more events to check out this week, some with a seasonal slant and some not.

The Zenith City's Christmas season kicks off this weekend with a parade and a lights display. Grab your calendar and peruse our guide to what's coming up.

Beats by Girlz Duluth celebration

The international organization Beats by Girlz works "to empower women & gender expansive people through music and technology," according to its website. It's turning 10, and there are celebration parties planned at 10 hubs of hipness including Madrid, Istanbul, Bogota, New York and, of course, Duluth. The Zenith City has a Beats by Girlz chapter led by Shaunna Heckman. A Saturday event at Bent Paddle will be an information session as well as a concert with performances by Beats by Girlz students and Minneapolis artist XINA. For details, see

The local Beats By Girlz chapter, taught by Shaunna Heckman, offers an empowering response to the question, “Who produced your album?”

Tom and Jerrys for CHUM

A red mug with the CHUM logo is held by a hand in front of an out-of-focus Christmas tree. A white liquid topped with rainbow sprinkles is visible inside.
Noah Hobbs is serving Tom and Jerrys at Jade Fountain on Friday.
Contributed / Tricia Hobbs

Noah Hobbs is a man who wears many hats: He's a Duluth city councilor, he works at One Roof Community Housing, and he's on the board of Churches United in Ministry. He also makes a mean Tom and Jerry. "During COVID," he said, "I got pretty, pretty bored of being isolated and tried out 10 or 11 different recipes that I found online, to see what was the best Tom and Jerry out there, and ended up making my own out of a combination of the 11 recipes."


Last year, Hobbs posted up at the Jade Fountain to sell his custom cocktails for charity, and moved a couple hundred. He'll be back at the Spirit Valley night spot Friday at 5 p.m., mixing Tom and Jerrys to raise funds that will help stock CHUM's food shelf. His not-so-secret ingredient: Green Chartreuse liqueur. For information, see

The Tom and Jerry was invented in London, but 200 years later, it's Wisconsin and Minnesota that carry the torch for this sweet and rich drink. The hot-batter cocktail remains a regional obsession.

'Christmas Vacation' at Wild State

A theatrical release poster for "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," featuring Chevy Chase being shocked by electricity while wearing a Santa suit and wrapped in Christmas lights.
Theatrical release poster for "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."
Contributed / Warner Bros.

Has there ever been a more iconic second sequel than "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"? You could make a case for "Return of the Jedi" or "Toy Story 3," but the 1989 follow-up to "National Lampoon's Vacation" (1983) and "National Lampoon's European Vacation" (1985) has proved an unstoppable meme machine. We have "Christmas Vacation" to thank for moose-shaped eggnog glasses, anxiety about fresh-cut Christmas trees, and the fact that "Clark Griswold" is the go-to moniker for someone who overdoes a home lighting display. Wild State Cider is hosting a free screening Friday at 7 p.m. For details, see

Holiday Dumb Show

Two men in humorous stage costume stand before a microphone on a stage. Man on left is dressed like a lounge lizard; man on right is wearing a horror t-shirt with jeans and a ball cap.
"The Fabulous Dik" and "Funtonio" will be bringing their particular brand of holiday cheer to Zeitgeist on Saturday.
Contributed / Renegade Live

With a name like "Holiday Dumb Show," Renegade Live is setting the bar low for its holiday sketch and improv show: the final installment in the company's "Series of Unfortunate Specials." The two-hour performance "ranges from irreverent to raunchy," the group's Robert Lee wrote in an email to the News Tribune.

"The show," he added, "will feature the amazing talents of Jody Kujawa, Christina Manchester, Robert Lee, Jonathan Manchester, Luke Moravec, Phillip Hoelscher, and Christine Winkler Johnson." It will be presented at Zeitgeist on Saturday at 8 p.m., repeating on New Year's Eve if you're looking for an incredibly "Dumb" way to say goodbye to 2022. For tickets and information, see

Festival of Lessons and Carols

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A choir sings during a Sunday service at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in 2019.
Tyler Schank / File / Duluth News Tribune

It may seem strange to think that pious carols like "The First Noel" and "Good Christian Men, Rejoice" were once considered unsuitable for church, but back in Charles Dickens' day, they were the equivalent of "All I Want for Christmas Is You." When the first Festival of Lessons and Carols was held, in England in 1880, it was novel for integrating popular carols with sacred hymns like "Adeste Fidelis." Why? The Right Rev. Edward White Benson saw his congregants hitting the pubs on Christmas Eve and thought that loosening things up a little might lure them into a house of worship.

The tradition continues to this day — not just in Britain, but here in Duluth. St. Paul's Episcopal Church is hosting its service Sunday at 6 p.m. The timing, in this case, does mean that if Roscoe's Pioneer Bar is calling your name on Christmas Eve, you'll still be free to go. Just don't tell the Rev. Benson. For information, see

Original building was called 'Jay Cooke's Church'


Chanukah at the Mall

t11.26.18 Bob King -- 112718.N.DNT.MENORAHc1 -- Rabbi Mendy Ross demonstrates how a new bulb is put into place for each night of Chanukah on the 6-foot-tall Menorah he's storing in his garage. He plans to light it for the public at Miller Hill Mall on Sunday. Bob King /
Rabbi Mendy Ross demonstrates how a new bulb is put into place for each night of Chanukah on his 6-foot-tall Menorah, seen here in 2019.
Bob King / File / Duluth News Tribune

Hanukkah, or Chanukah, begins at sundown Sunday. To kick off the Festival of Lights, Chabad of Duluth MN is presenting a Chanukah Celebration at Miller Hill Mall. We're talking music, we're talking prizes, we're talking doughnuts, we're talking — wait for it — a giant balloon menorah. "We're not going to be able to light it, but that's OK," Chabad leader Mendy Ross told the News Tribune's Melinda Lavine. There will be another 6-foot menorah that can in fact be lit, so the holiday will be doubly bright. For details, see

“We’re not going to be able to light it, but that’s OK,” said Rabbi Mendy Ross, leader of event host Chabad of Duluth.

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at or 218-279-5536.
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