Santa saunters to town Saturday
by Tim Kane
By Kristin Will
SOUTH HADLEY – For decades, the Holiday Stroll has marked the start to the holiday season in South Hadley, trumpeting its joys and cheer with a literal jaunt around the Village Commons.
It’s a staple tradition South Hadley holds dear.
“I would go so far as to say it defines the holiday season for South Hadley,” said Steven A. Markow, president of the South Hadley & Granby Chamber of Commerce, the organization which orchestrates the stroll.
“What is special about New England is how time and the seasons are marked by wonderful traditions,” he said. “The Holiday Stroll is the quintessential small town kick-off to the winter holiday season.”
With a recently new Saturday schedule, Markow said more families are able to spend extra time on the common in the daylight, eliminating the rush to see Santa after adults leave work.
“Unlike when it was held on Friday evening, the Saturday schedule is at a more leisurely pace,” he said.
This year, the Holiday Stroll will take place Saturday, Dec. 1, starting with crafts and activities at the Gaylord Library from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Gaylord Library will host a Holiday Marketplace and Boutique from 1 to 3 p.m. at which homemade knitted creations and gifts will be sold.
The First Congregational Church will host a Holiday Cookie Sale to benefit the South Hadley Council on Aging from 11:30 am to 5:30 p.m.
Starting at 2 p.m., the town gazebo will offer sounds of local artists. At 2 p.m., vocalist David Mendall will perform, followed by the Stonybrook Church Choir at 2:30 p.m., the Black Cat Theater at 2:45 p.m., Lifepoint Church Choir at 3:30 p.m., and the South Hadley Community Band at 4:30 p.m.
Santa will arrive at 3 p.m., led by the South Hadley High School Tiger Pride Marching Band. From 3 to 7 p.m., a Stuff the Sleigh food drive will be held at the Yarde Tavern in which residents who drop off a canned good for the pantry will receive a free gourmet hot chocolate. Patrons can also have their photo taken with Mrs. Clause.
Children can offer up their wish lists to him and pose for photos.
Finally, at 5 p.m., the holiday tree will be lit.
“The chamber is proud to put the Holiday Stroll on for the town of South Hadley and surrounding communities,” said Markow. “We hope everyone has enjoyable time at the festivities.”
Susan Stockman, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, agreed, saying the stroll “nits together families and neighborhoods for a happy, town-wide activity.”
“There’s something for everyone,” she said. “Santa for the kids, music for everyone, and shopping and restaurants right across the street for many.”