Immerse yourself in Holiday Splendor
NNew England is probably one of the prettiest places in the country to experience the winter holidays. And nowhere is that especially true than in New England’s historic villages. That’s the idea behind the annual village stroll in Stonington Borough, sponsored again this year by the Stonington Village Improvement Association and the Stonington Borough Merchants Association.
Held on the first Friday in December, the stroll focuses heavily on old-fashioned family fun in a setting that can only be described as quintessentially New England.
With its narrow, tree-lined streets packed with historic homes and buildings, the waterfront borough at Christmas time looks like something that jumped right off of a Currier & Ives holiday print.
There are horse-drawn carriage rides, a Christmas tree lighting, a visit from Santa Claus, caroling on the borough green, freshly popped popcorn, warm treats and hot chocolate.
Borough stores stay open until 9 p.m. and offer light refreshments to revelers, saysWendy Bury, president of the merchants association and manager of the La Grua center, one of the village businesses that will participate in this year’s stroll. Downtown streets will be closed to vehicular traffic and stroll organizers are hoping to include a family-friendly movie for kids again this year.
“It’s kind of a little bit of everything that night, from the Christmas tree lighting, to caroling and singing on the green,” Bury says. “It’s something for everyone.”
Now in its 15th year, Bury says the annual stroll has become one of her favorite borough events, in large part because of its focus on family and holiday traditions.
“It’s charming and sweet,” she says. “You get to see a lot of familiar faces and everybody’s in a good mood that night. Everybody’s happy. Kids are happy, parents are happy. The moms shop and the dads walk. It just looks good, smells good and feels good. It’s just a feel-good night.”
Most of the stores put out refreshments for shoppers to enjoy and while many people come just to take in the sights and the ambience of the evening, just as many also end up making headway on their gift-giving lists, Bury says.
“No one has to buy but people do end up doing Christmas shopping that night,” she says. “It’s one of our biggest nights, retail wise.”
As in previous years, there will be raffles of donated goods from local stores. Last year, Bury says, one of the gift baskets that was raffled off included $1,000 worth of merchandise. Another store, she says, raffled off a canoe.
“This is the night where the merchants give back to our customers.”
The festivities kick off at 5 p.m. and at 6 p.m. stroll organizers light the village’s Christmas tree on the green. After, revelers sing Christmas carols, says Roberto Freitas, a member of the Stonington Village Improvement Association and chairman of the group’s holiday stroll committee.
“It’s a really, really homey and family-oriented event,” he says. “Last year the Christmas tree was spectacular. I hope I can duplicate it.”