Community comes alive for ‘Season Opener’
Cold and crisp wintry winds didn’t stop people from Stanstead and beyond from taking part in the Christmas activities that were held in the Rock Island sector of Stanstead, last Saturday.
In the morning, the well-decorated Place Del Monty soon filled up with Christmas shoppers looking for handmade gifts at Stanstead’s Christmas Market where over twenty artisans, specialty food producers and bakers were selling their wares. Situated in the former Hotel Del Monty which operated for decades, some shoppers reminisced while they looked for that ‘special something’. “The last time we were here must have been at least twenty years ago,” said Gisele and Craig Grieve, of Stanstead, as they stood on the old dance floor. “There was a bar upstairs and a Chinese food restaurant. There were really good bands that played here back then, and the Americans would often come up. When our kids got older they used to come here, too. This is a great building and the original fridges are even still there! It’s got potential,” added Mr. Grieve.
Children had fun at the market, some getting their faces painted upon entering by Bobbie Dumas and her helper, Hannah Wallace. After lunch, Santa and Mrs. Claus visited the Christmas Market where they gave out goodies, hot chocolate and gifts to the children who were lined up to sit on Santa’s lap, all to the live music of local favourite, Mike Goudreau.
Across the street from Place Del Monty, the Moose Café did a roaring business warming people up with hot beverages and delicious food prepared by the Quivit bakery, from Waterville. During the lunch hour, Lise Flanders entertained everyone with Christmas songs played on an old upright piano, with people from the audience taking turns singing with her. After one gentleman from the audience got up and sang “Spanish Eyes” beautifully with Mrs. Flanders, Ronald Goodsell quipped from the audience: “Take it easy Marc, or we’ll lose all of our women!” Visitors to the Moose Café also enjoyed piano music as performed by two Stanstead College students, Benjamin Smith and Vikki Lui.
“We’d like to thank Kim Prangley for doing all the decorating at the Moose Café, Richard Abbott and his son for making our Moose Crossing sign and the small moose, and Marcel Hauben, Eva Juul and Gabriel Safdie for the use of their buildings for the market,” said one of the event’s organizers, Beverly Goodsell.
Across from Steve’s Pizzeria, where everyone’s bill was discounted by 10% and hot apple cider was given away, people were going in and out of Granit-Central all day where train enthusiasts from the Sherbrooke Club had the miniature trains up and running for the visitors. The Fleurs et Passion flower shop and the Porte Ouverte antique and collectible shop welcomed visitors all day as did the Boutique Midgarden where delicious rice pudding was being given away by the owner of a new Latin American restaurant that will be opening, in Stanstead, in March.
After the reportedly impressive and well-attended Children’s Christmas show at the Notre Dame de la Merci Church and the Christmas Cookie decorating at the Haskell Library, Place Henry Seth Taylor began to fill up with a crowd to witness the inauguration of the park’s new benches and the special presentation of the Golden Book of signatures to Dr. Gilles Bouchard. “Dr. Bouchard was really happy. He thanked his wife, Madeline, and spoke about how she supported him when he was going to school, and about all the hard times that they had at the beginning. It was a good story for all the children to hear,” explained Marise Trepanier, Stanstead’s recreation coordinator.
After the lighting of the town Christmas tree, those who weren’t too frozen to move headed over to the Live Nativity scene at the Stanstead South United Church. There, Reverend Lise Kuzminska told the story of Christmas, in English and French, to a captivated audience of children. “When Reverend Kuzminska got to the part of Jesus’ birth and said there was a big celebration, Philip Ruf’s donkey began honking and honking,” said Ms. Trepanier. “If we have a Live Nativity next year we’ll probably do it earlier and more downtown.”
The newly opened Terrasse Dufferin Restaurant was full for their turkey supper special after the afternoon celebration. Even Santa attended that one, ready for a good meal after a big day!
Some of the organizers of last Saturday’s Christmas happening in Stanstead were (l. to r.): Marcel Hauben, Eva Juul, Marthe Charron, Mrs. Claus, Sandra Harrison, Santa Claus, Huguette Grenier, Helene Hamel and Beverly Goodsell.