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(Photo Courtesy Lauren Austin)

It was a very merry unbirthday for all involved Saturday at the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center as Artesia Reads month opened with an Alice in Wonderland tea party.

Children ages 6-12 were invited to enjoy high tea with Alice and the Mad Hatter, complete with a game of croquet played with mallets and balls fashioned to resemble flamingos and hedgehogs. Attendees were also able to decorate their own souvenir teacups.

The tea partiers snacked on an assortment of fruity herbal teas, Curiouser Cucumber and Queen of Hearts finger sandwiches, Cheshire Cat Fruit Kabobs, and cupcakes from Sweet Confections by K&M bearing the “Eat Me” instructions Alice found on the size-altering cakes in Wonderland.

Girls work to decorate their souvenir teacups during the Alice in Wonderland Tea Party Saturday at the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center. (Photo Courtesy Erin Loveland)

The event was the first of several on which the Artesia Public Library, Artesia Historical Museum and Art Center, and Artesia Arts Council will combine to present during Artesia Reads month, which is designed to encourage community readings of “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll.

Teens and adults ages 13 and up are invited to the library at 6 p.m. each Tuesday in February for 1920s-themed craft projects. This Tuesday’s craft will be art-deco jewelry, followed by feather headbands Feb. 13 and marbled scarves/pocket squares Feb. 20. No registration is required, and all materials will be provided.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, the OPAC will host Brenda Hollingsworth-Marley as legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday, presented by the New Mexico Humanities Council.

Holiday, known for hits such as “God Bless the Child” and “All of Me,” was an ambassador of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and worked with some of the greatest jazz and blues artists of the time. Hollingsworth-Marley will take audience members back in time with her soulful renditions of Holiday’s music.

Tickets are $20 each and may be purchased online at www.artesiaartscouncil.com or at the OPAC box office, 746-4212.

Alice takes aim at a playing card wicket during a game of croquet. (Photo Courtesy Lauren Austin)

Adults ages 18 and up will want to test their ingenuity Saturday, Feb. 17, as the library and museum team up to present a free “King Tut at the Museum” escape room.

Escape rooms have become popular throughout the country, requiring participants to solve puzzles and other challenges within a time limit in order to “escape” the space in which they’re contained.

Three time slots will be available for the 1920s/King Tut-themed escape room: 5 p.m., 6 p.m. ad 7 p.m. Those interested must register in advance by calling the library at 746-4252. Each escape challenge is expected to last between 45 and 60 minutes, with light refreshments to follow. Participants will be monitored by staff at all times and are encouraged – but not required – to come dressed in 1920s attire.

At noon Monday, Feb. 19, the public is invited to participate in a book discussion on “The Great Gatsby” at the library. Light refreshments will be provided, and those who have yet to read the novel will be able to check out a copy.

The Artesia Arts Council will transport Artesia back to the Jazz Age at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, at the OPAC with a 1920s Speakeasy Gala fundraiser.

Attendees are urged to don their flapper and sheik finery, listen to live music, sip cocktails, and enjoy the excess of the Roaring Twenties. A silent auction will also be available.

Tickets are $30 for arts council members and $10 for non-members attending with a member. To reserve a spot, call 746-4212.

The Mad Hatter checks to see that everyone has tea. (Photo Courtesy Lauren Austin)

Those attending any of the above-listed events will also receive a bonus: a free ticket to play productions of the two literary classics at the end of the month.

The National Players will present “Alice in Wonderland” at 2 p.m. and “The Great Gatsby” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, at the OPAC. Tickets are also available for purchase for $20 each at www.artesiaartscouncil.com or by calling the box office at 746-4212.

Whether pining for the freewheeling glitz and glamor of the ‘20s or mad for the curious world of Alice and her friends, Artesians are encouraged to immerse themselves in the two timeless novels and join in the fun at these community events.