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Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: Fratello's lends helping hand Christmas Day

December 15. 2013 9:46PM

Fratello's could rake in some dough if the Millyard establishment was open to paying customers on Christmas Day. But, co-owner Mike McDonough said he's never thought about doing it.

One reason: "I couldn't get people to work," McDonough said.

What he means is he couldn't get people to work... for money. This Christmas he has more employees than he needs who have volunteered to work for free as the Italian restaurant spends its ninth year serving meals to homeless and other less fortunate people in our community.

McDonough, along with co-owner and brother, Mark, and their six children, will spend the holiday greeting guests, cleaning tables and serving up their delicious lasagna and baked stuffed chicken. They do it with the help of two Christian organizations, The Salvation Army and 1269 Café on Hanover Street, which distribute tickets to the event and provide transportation.

"Last year they truly went out and brought people from underpasses and city parks and brought them in for a meal," Mike McDonough said.

They served 400 meals last year, their largest year. He expects to do the same this holiday season.

What has become a McDonough family tradition started the year after Mike went through a divorce.

"For me it was more to show the kids how good their life is," he said. "And my brother feels the same way."

Some Fratello's employees also had the same thought.

"It was going to be a one-time deal, and we just kept it going," he said.

If you would like to help serve the Christmas meal at Fratello's, I am afraid you are out of luck. The McDonoughs have more than enough people to help. I think that is a wonderful reflection of our community.

But there are so many other ways to feed the need in our community, in particular, by making a donation to this year's Union Leader Santa Fund, which raises money for The Salvation Army's programs, including its Kids Café. You can donate at

Bravo, Kaleigh!

One of my favorite Central High School graduates is about to make her Broadway debut as a member of the ensemble in "Cabaret." Kaleigh Cronin, who grew up performing in many community theater productions around our city, and who even had a stint on the PBS show, "Zoom," has spent the last couple of years with the touring production of "Jersey Boys." According to, Cronin will be rubbing elbows with some pretty big-time celebrities in the Cabaret cast, including Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams. The production opens at Studio 54 on April 24. Bus trip, anyone?

Learning with Legos

SEE Science Center has created the perfect after-school program for parents who want to infuse their children with more STEM. STEM, my new favorite buzz word, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Tuesday will be the last session of SEE's STEM-friendly, three-week Lego Mini Course designed for 5-to 9-year-olds. But it is much more than just playing with Legos. Participants are given basic challenges and are encouraged to build creatively in a hands-on environment during each session.

Instructor Eric Kingsley uses a variety of methods to guide students through the problem-solving process ensuring the students learn and have fun at the same time.

In the first week, participants built towers and learned about structures. In week two, they learned about weight, balance and pivot points through zip line building. This week they will focus on space while building a space craft (pretend, not real).

The course is created and run by Brickapalooza out of Tyngsboro, Mass. Kingsley is an adult Lego fan, has been a Lego Ambassador and works on fan-created content for Lego Universe. He also helped plan and build SEE's super cool Lego Millyard Project.

All educational benefits aside, I was happy to pay the $45 enrollment fee to have someone besides me play Legos with my oldest son for two hours. As a mom of three boys, I am ashamed that I sometimes dream that the many bins of Legos cluttering my house are actually filled with Barbie shoes. There is nothing STEM-y about Barbie shoes.

To learn about more Lego Mini Courses and plans for a week-long Lego summer camp, go to and sign up for the email list. Event of the Week

Nothing makes me want to shout hallelujah like a live performance of Handel's "Messiah." Experience it Friday at 7:30 p.m. at The Cathedral of St. Joseph on Lowell Street.

Under the baton of Mr. Eric Bermani, professional soloists, members of The Cathedral Choir and the Diocesan Festival Chorus and Chamber Orchestra from Southern New Hampshire University will perform the Christmas portion of Handel's "Messiah" culminating the evening with the famous Hallelujah Chorus. Suggested donations of $15 will be taken at the door.

For more information on this and other events happening in and around Manchester, go to

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