Thrills for the week

Thursday
November 27
Get a load off: You can have too much of a good thing, and it never becomes more evident than on Thanksgiving Day, when the dinner table, covered with mounds of food, suddenly resembles a fire sale at Macy's. Doesn't your belt tighten around your waist just thinking about it? Well, catch it while you can: The City of Aurora and the Beck Recreation Center invite you to Huff-N-Puff Before You Stuff this morning between 6 and noon, when various strenuous activities ranging from lap swimming to step aerobics will be available--free--to all comers ages twelve and up. All you have to do--besides the work, that is--is bring a couple of cans of food and/or a personal-care item to donate. The center is at 800 Telluride St.; for information and an activities schedule, call 739-6886. Now, how about some mashed potatoes and gravy?

Give it your best shot: You have plenty to give thanks for--but what about folks who don't? There are a million ways you can help those less fortunate; here are just a few:

Don't dump that doll. As long as she's not missing any essential parts, the Dolls & Kids Closet, 5501 S. Broadway, Littleton, will make her over, dress her in a new outfit and donate the refurbished toy to St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, which will in turn distribute it, along with others, to needy and at-risk children. Drop off your dollies between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; call 738-0490.

Another program that understands how much the little things count is collecting something you might not have thought of yourself. The Curtis Park Community Center, which operates Denver's only daycare shelter for homeless kids, has a great need for disposable diapers. Donation boxes for the Metro Area Diaper Project are available in office waiting rooms of thirty metro-area pediatricians and pediatric dentists throughout November; for more information on where to leave diapers (other infant items are needed as well), call your own pediatrician's office or Greenwood Pediatrics, 694-3200.

Finally, the Salvation Army, granddaddy of service agencies, can always use donations of food, clothing and cash--not to mention volunteer bell-ringers to oversee the army's familiar kettle sites and willing bodies to help sort and prepare food baskets. In addition to putting on today's annual massive Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless (noon-1 p.m., Currigan Hall, 1324 Champa St.), the organization sponsors holiday Giving Trees at Wal-Mart stores and shopping malls across the region, canned-food drop-off bins at local markets, and an Adopt-A-Family program that distributes Christmas gifts and groceries to needy families. For information on how to volunteer or make a donation, call 866-9280.

King of the hillbillies: After you get your fill today, what you may need is some rock and roll. The Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., is throwing a real gone Thanksgiving-night show featuring retro-country sensation Wayne "The Train" Hancock and San Francisco's raucous rockabillies, the Sugar King Boys. No sitting down allowed--the music begins at 9. For tickets, $7, call 322-2308.

Friday
November 28
The beat goes on: If you're one of those folks who are forever lamenting the way Christmas blots out all other observances in its path, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble has your ticket: The troupe's annual Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum performances greet a more multicultural, rainbow-hued holiday season with a contagious shot of joy and energy. From Kwanzaa to the Chinese New Year, winter celebrations of every ilk get the nod from Robinson; join in tonight and tomorrow at 8 or Sunday at 2 at the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Tickets range from $15 to $35; for reservations call 295-1759 or 830-TIXS.

Rally round the tree: Year after year, Larimer Square does an old-fashioned Yuletide up right during the Larimer Square Winterfest, and it's a sight to behold--from the fragrant centerpiece, touted to be Denver's tallest Christmas tree, to the myriad trimmings offered around it: Santa's workshop, a Nutcracker Salon for face-painting, a fabulous gingerbread model of the square, carolers, carriage rides and festive decorations. There's shopping, of course, but you might just choose to let everything slide--the square's busy outdoor ice rink will be open for business daily ($3 admission, $1 skate rental) through January 1. Winterfest fun begins tonight with a tree-lighting ceremony at 6 and continues weekends through New Year's Day; call 607-1276 for details.

Whatever works: There's nothing like a day off to make you appreciate how hard you actually work. But you're not alone in the rat race; you and anyone else who punches the clock will go gaga over Livelihood, a new PBS series hosted by Will Durst, the engaging political comic known for his martini-dry wit. Join Durst, who visits (in the vein of Studs Terkel's classic tome, Working) with career telephone operators, travel agents and coal miners in the first installment, tonight at 9 on KRMA-TV/Channel 6.

Saturday
November 29
Orchestral maneuvers: Here's something to dance about--the Colorado Ballet's annual production of the The Nutcracker will feature live music instead of the canned variety originally planned when it opens for the holidays today at the Auditorium Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. The dance classic, sugar plum fairies and all, debuts at 2 with a special family matinee featuring activities and games for the kids along with the ballet itself; performances continue through December 28. Admission ranges from $14 to $50; call 830-TIXS for a schedule and tickets.

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