The Day - Sound & Country - - A Super-sweet Valentine’s Day - By SU­SAN BAN­NING Day Staff Writer

VValen­tine’s Day is a co­nun­drum de­vised by, de­pend­ing upon your per­spec­tive and level of cyn­i­cism, the an­cient Ro­mans or Hall­mark. For es­tab­lished cou­ples, it is a ro­man­tic day of obli­ga­tion. For sin­gles, it’s of­ten a day of mixed emo­tions.

Both groups, how­ever, can agree that Feb. 14 in down­town New Lon­don is some­thing spe­cial.

That’s when New Lon­don Main Street presents its an­nual Valen­tine’s Day cel­e­bra­tion, which ten­ta­tively is re­tain­ing its ti­tle from 2008 of “Reel Love: Sweets, Sa­vories & the Sil­ver Screen.”

And like last year, the or­ga­ni­za­tion is team­ing with Garde Arts Cen­ter to cre­ate the per­fect venue for the Satur­day night cel­e­bra­tion.

“We were lack­ing a space for the event un­til the very last minute last year,” says Tracy Ber­genn, New Lon­don Main Street pro­mo­tions co­or­di­na­tor. “The Garde saved the day by of­fer­ing us the op­por­tu­nity to col­lab­o­rate with the New Lon­donWin­ter Film Fes­ti­val.”

So af­ter a very suc­cess­ful si­lent auc­tion, the next course was the ro­man­tic Ir­ish movie “Once,” fol­lowed by a course of sweets and sa­vories. The re­sponse was ex­cel­lent, so as Ber­genn says, “If it ain’t broke …”

The movie that will be shown this time around is not known yet, but if past New Lon­donWin­ter Film Fes­ti­vals are any in­di­ca­tion, it will be an Os­car con­tender (as “Once” was for Best Song) and, ideally, ro­man­tic.

What was a col­lab­o­ra­tion that came to­gether at the last minute ended up be­ing a huge suc­cess, with New Lon­don Main Street sell­ing all 200 avail­able tick­ets and earn­ing $4,000 on the si­lent auc­tion.

“The Garde is so sup­port­ive of the event and the or­ga­ni­za­tion that they’re re­ally ex­cited about us com­ing back,” Ber­genn says.

The plan is to fol­low the itin­er­ary of last year, which kicks off the si­lent auc­tion at 6 p.m. Some of the items up for grabs in­clude a ski re­sort pack­age at Loon Moun­tain in New Hamp­shire, a trip for two to a vine­yard on Long Is­land and the op­por­tu­nity to have a per­sonal chef come cook din­ner for you and your sweet­heart at your home.

The movie will fol­low at 7 p.m. and the evening topped off with a wine and dessert ex­trav­a­ganza. Last year, 24 restau­rants do­nated plat­ters, with a range of fare that in­cluded veg­etable dumplings with Thai chili, rasp­berry-chocolate petit fours, tiramisu and can­noli.

“This is a won­der­ful way for the com­mu­nity to get to­gether,” Ber­genn says.

She ex­plains that while many of the tick­ets are sold to cou­ples, there have been in­creas­ing num­bers of sin­gles.

“We’ve seen lots of groups of sin­gle friends,” she says. “It’s a great op­por­tu­nity for friends to get to­gether and en­joy a won­der­ful evening.”

At­ten­dees are en­cour­aged to have din­ner in down­town New Lon­don be­fore head­ing over to “Reel Love.” Their re­ceipt from the down­town restau­rant will be en­tered into a raf­fle for an overnight stay at Ho­tel Mar­lowe in Cam­bridge, Mass.

Tick­ets, which were $25 in 2008, can be pur­chased at the Garde Arts Cen­ter box of­fice, at gardearts.org or by call­ing 860-444-7373.


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