From Dream to Reality

How one Triangle teen’s quest for employment turned into an entrepreneurial triumph


Published:

Ever since she was a little girl, Gabi Angelini of Raleigh, now 20 years old, dreamed of running a restaurant. She began saving her money to make it a reality.

Photo of Gabi Angelini courtesy of the Angelini family

Her goals were well-known among her loved ones, according to her mother Mary Angelini. “People would mail her checks for Christmas and birthdays, and would even write a memo line ‘for your restaurant,’” Mary recalls.

As she got older, Gabi — who was born with Down syndrome — began working a few hours each week bagging groceries. When she wanted to increase her hours, the grocery store declined, so Gabi went on a job hunt. She prepared diligently for a couple of interviews, only to be disappointed when those companies hiring weren’t interested in employing her.

“She was devastated. I was devastated,” Mary says. The pair came to the conclusion that they could make Gabi’s dream job a reality rather than waiting for it to come along. They visited Bitty & Beau’s Coffee in Wilmington, which also has a Charleston location and will soon open another one in Savannah, since the coffee shop advocates for and employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“What do you think about this?” Mary asked her daughter. She thought a coffee shop would be a more scalable project than a full-service restaurant. Gabi agreed it was a good fit and, thus, Gabi’s Grounds was born.

Mary posted a video of Gabi on GoFundMe. Over the course of a few months, supporters pledged $2,000. Then the team at GoFundMe saw Gabi’s story. The company filmed its own video and featured it on GoFundMe.com.

“Within a matter of days, she had $40,000 in the bank,” Mary says. “It just exploded.”

The Angelinis leveraged this enthusiasm into a burgeoning coffee empire. Local roaster Larry’s COFFEE made a special blend for Gabi, and she’s been selling it at corporate offices and pop-up events in the region. Gabi’s Grounds also participated in Packapalooza, an annual street festival at North Carolina State University, and will be at Riverfest in Wilmington, a festival that usually takes place in October but was postponed to November due to Hurricane Florence. Soon, Gabi’s Grounds will release coffee pods of Gabi’s blend, too.

The ultimate goal, however, is to raise enough money for a brick and mortar coffee shop that employs other individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In fact, Mary says she already has 20-30 people interested in working if and when the shop opens. Some already volunteer at Gabi’s Grounds events.

Mary also envisions a space in the shop where creators with intellectual and developmental disabilities can sell their wares to customers. She estimates that they’ve raised about half the funds necessary to open a storefront.

As for other employers, Mary hopes they see the potential in giving opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “Interview them. See what they can do,” she urges. “See if they’re willing and able to do what you’re asking … They should be given a chance. They’ll be [your] best employee, I promise.”


A Trying Trend

Gabi’s frustrating job search prior to Gabi’s Grounds is not unique. According to the “Family & Individual Needs for Disability Supports” report by The ARC, a national nonprofit committed to advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, 36 percent of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities were employed in 2017, compared with the 60-plus percent of the general population that the Bureau of Labor statistics documented as employed in 2017. (The Bureau of Labor also reports that 21 percent of persons with a disability were employed during 2017, a smaller number than The ARC reported.) Additionally, 45 percent of the respondents in The ARC survey who weren’t employed wanted paid jobs.

Barbara Germiller, employment specialist at The ARC of the Triangle, works to improve upon those statistics. Individuals are referred to Germiller or The ARC’s other employment specialists by the state’s vocational rehabilitation offices, which provide training and counseling, among other services, to people with disabilities. The potential workers meet with Barbara and complete a “supplemental eval,” during which they volunteer at three different locations. The ARC strives to vary the volunteer experiences — maybe one at a thrift store and another at a food service location, for instance — in order to see if the individual is ready to work and help participants identify jobs they might like to try.

Germiller then speaks with managers, helps participants prepare for interviews and accompanies them to their first few shifts, among other things — all to help make sure that the participants end up in jobs that are a good fit. Once the participant is employed, a job coach from The ARC takes over, helping the participant work on goals specific to his or her new gig. The entire process is individualized, designed to help participants get not just any job, but a job he or she wants.

“It is important to all of us [at The ARC] to see the people we serve as individuals and help them achieve their personal goals,” Barbara explains.

Gabi Angelini is already on her way to her personal goal. And she’s having a great time getting there. “My favorite part is actually working with my friends,” she says.

Even more fun is in store if Gabi’s long-term plans come to fruition. What will be a coffee shop by day very well may be hopping enterprise at night as well. Her vision?

“Disco night. And a karaoke party. And breakdancing. And a dance party,” she says.

Luckily, Gabi’s friends and customers will know just where to get the caffeine that will help them stay bright-eyed for all of the merriment.


How to Help Your Special Needs Child Prepare for Work

Advice from Barbara Germiller, employment specialist at The ARC of the Triangle

Start with chores at home. “You know, laundry, folding clothes, sweeping the floors, doing dishes,” Germiller says. Knowing how to fold clothes, for example, can help expedite the learning process for a job at a clothing store.

Encourage your child to volunteer. “[Get your child] used to the idea of working,” she says, especially when they have to be at the same place at the same time multiple times a week.

Vocational Rehabilitation is often the first step. The ARC gets all of its referrals through the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. For more information, visit ncdhhs.gov/divisions/dvrs.

Working isn’t a good fit for every person with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. “There’s no shame in that,” Germiller emphasizes. Families needn’t put pressure on a job being the “next step” if it’s not the right step.

 

Visit gabisgrounds.com to learn more about how to buy Gabi’s Grounds coffee, as well as how you can help her reach her goal.

Laura Lacy is a freelance writer based in Chapel Hill.

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November 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
Website »

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RJR hosts the Sirens from Savannah, Georgia, for a sanctioned junior bout, followed by an adult scrimmage. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Allstar bout begins at 10...

Cost: $7 at the door. Free for kids 3 and younger

Where:
United Skates of America
2901 Trawick Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: RJR
Telephone: 919-438-6066
Contact Name: Maureen Fennell
Website »

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Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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The Durham Art Walk Holiday Market is a festive fine arts and crafts event that kicks off the holiday season in downtown Durham. The Holiday Market invites art lovers of all ages to experience...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Arts Council
120 Morris Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2720
Contact Name: Margaret DeMott
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Join NC State Parks, Recreation and Tourism students and discover how the world around you transitions from fall to winter. From meeting a live snake to creating a fall craft, participants will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Visit the display table to learn about this fall tradition and make a corn husk doll to take home. All ages.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Tour the farm, spend time with farmers who care about the environment and meet friendly animals. Tickets must be purchased online; the farm is not open for drop-ins.

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Hux Family Farm
1923 Shaw Rd.
Durham, NC  27704
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Website »

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Join harpist extraordinaire Laura Byrne as she and several of her students, Kate Twiss (8th grade) and Jocelyn Bowns (10th grade), serenade audiences with beautiful...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sarah P. Duke Gardens - Kirby Horton Hall
420 Anderson St
Durham, NC  27708
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Sponsor: Mallarme Chamber Players
Telephone: 919-560-2788
Contact Name: Suzanne Rousso
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Walk back in time with a park naturalist to learn about the original Americans. Discover edible and medicinal plants. Play games like Native American children and make a fun craft. All ages with...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online. Choose course #117109.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Enjoy food, inflatables, games and prizes (for adults and kids), a silent auction and a haunted house.  Cost: $5 ($3 for kids 6 and younger) Concessions and the haunted house...

Cost: $5 ($3 for kids 6 and younger)

Where:
The School for Creative Studies
5001 Red Mill Road
Durham, NC  27704
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Sponsor: The School for Creative Studies PTSA
Telephone: 919-560-3535
Contact Name: School for Creative Studies PTSA
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The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle presents a concert featuring UNC’s Carolina Choir. Concert highlights include Samuel Barber’s Prayers of Kierkegaard, Nino Rota’s Bassoon...

Cost: $30/adult, free for children

Where:
Carolina Theatre of Durham
309 W. Morgan St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Search for owls, salamanders and more. Equipment provided. Ages 10-13. Register online. Choose course #117111.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Young adults with developmental disabilities enjoy a book club featuring "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."  The group meets most Sundays at 4:45 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Website »

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Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

More information

Logs provide great habitat for many animals. Join us as we read Wendy Pfeffer's A Log's Life, explore a real log and create a log craft to take home. For ages 1-6 with accompanying adult. Meet at...

Cost: $4 per child

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

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Children with disabilities learn the basics of meal preparation, cooking and clean-up with easy-to-follow recipes. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #116723.

Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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Children with special needs make gyros, a popular pita wrap. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #116723.

Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

More information

Learn Sarah Hale's story and make fun Thanksgiving-themed crafts. All ages with adult. Register online. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Ages 11 and older with special needs learn basic outdoor survival skills. Register online. Choose course #116958.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Ages 6-10 enjoy art and yoga. Register online. 

Cost: $45/child

Where:
Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Avenue
Suite A
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Little Guru Kids Yoga
Telephone: 919-720-4921
Contact Name: Jen Fisher
Website »

More information

Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

More information

See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

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Learn about the first Thanksgiving. Play 17th-century games, learn to talk like a pilgrim and create a first Thanksgiving food collage to take home. Ages 7 and older. Registration required.

Cost: $6/child

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

A playful elf, sent by Santa to confirm the naughty and nice list, stumbles upon the best place to find holiday cheer—the North Carolina Symphony! This family fun concert includes music from...

Cost: $28/person

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Take part in a 5K Thanksgiving morning. Proceeds benefit the Wake County Boys & Girls Clubs. Register online. 

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
Downtown Wake Forest
, NC  27587


Website »

More information

Competitive or Recreational 5K at Garner's White Deer Park Thanksgiving morning.  1 Mile option also available Register at https://fsseries.com/event/turkey-day-5k/register/

Cost: $20 - $30

Where:
White Deer Park
2400 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: TeddyRox Foundation
Telephone: 919-608-5658
Contact Name: Nancy Cawthon
Website »

More information

Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

More information

Take the family to enjoy the animated movie at Marbles IMAX. Playing November 22-25 only.  See the website for show times and to purchase tickets.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ages 6-10 enjoy art and yoga. Register online. 

Cost: $45/child

Where:
Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Avenue
Suite A
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Little Guru Kids Yoga
Telephone: 919-720-4921
Contact Name: Jen Fisher
Website »

More information

Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

More information

Bring the family out for a fall wagon ride along the back roads of the park to enjoy the fall colors and the beauty of Harris Lake County Park.  Staff will interpret the natural and historical...

Cost: $1 per person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

The original television classic comes to life! The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey...

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

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This class is a chance for adventurous women to get together for a fun-filled workshop where we explore the basics of aerial silks. No need for a background in aerial yoga, this is a workshop...

Cost: $25

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
Website »

More information

Gather the family together for this fun-filled, heartwarming spectacular featuring seasonal favorites plus a sing-a-long, falling snow, and a chorus line of dancing Santas. Visit Santa...

Cost: $35-$65

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family to enjoy the animated movie at Marbles IMAX. Playing November 22-25 only.  See the website for show times and to purchase tickets.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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A Perch, a local coworking space is pleased to announce their annual indoor/outdoor Holiday Handmade Pop-up. The market will showcase a diverse range of work by local makers including,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Perch Studios
106 S. Greensboro St.
Suite E
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: Perch Coworking
Telephone: 919 260 5313
Contact Name: Betsey Elbogen

More information

Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

More information

The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster,...

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Ages 8 and older 8 learn aerial yoga poses. Great opportunity to have fun for the entire family. No prior aerial yoga experience is required.  24 Hour Pre-registration: $40 one parent+one...

Cost: $40 child+adult or $20/child $25/adult

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
Website »

More information

Celebrate the holiday season with goats, farm animals, a new hay ride and tractor ride, holiday treats and a Christmas Market. Santa will be at the farm on all weekends giving you the perfect...

Cost: $13.50/person

Where:
Spring Haven Farm
5306 Homer Ruffin Rd.
Chapel Hill , NC  27516
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Sponsor: Spring Haven Farm
Telephone: 919.407.1806
Contact Name: Andrew Crihfield
Website »

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Take part in a fun and playful aerial yoga and movement class for parents and children age 5 and older. Stretch, move, play and learn aerial yoga poses. Breathing techniques will be taught to...

Cost: $35 child and adult pair, or $15/child and $25/adult

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 888-587-9530
Contact Name: hoa bui
Website »

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Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster,...

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Gather the family together for this fun-filled, heartwarming spectacular featuring seasonal favorites plus a sing-a-long, falling snow, and a chorus line of dancing Santas. Visit Santa...

Cost: $35-$65

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Joshual Lozoff combines amazing illusions with mental feats that explore the possibilities of the human mind. All ages. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $20/person

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown     
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More information

Take the family to enjoy the animated movie at Marbles IMAX. Playing November 22-25 only.  See the website for show times and to purchase tickets.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
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Website »

More information

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