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Are We There Yet?: Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
By Rebecca Dravis On: 10:14AM / Friday December 05, 2014
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Did you miss me?

I took a little hiatus with this column for a few weeks to gather my strength for the Christmas season. But I'm back this weekend with some holiday happenings - including one very near and dear to my heart.

First, Friday night, Dec. 5, is loaded with Christmas tree lightings all around the county. From north to south, Sweetwood of Williamstown will host a tree-lighthing party from 4 to 6 p.m. Pittsfield will hold its official ceremony at Park Square at 6 p.m., which is the same time Lenox is hosting its lighting in Lilac Park. And the town of Lee is holding a celebration at 7 p.m. in Church Park that includes a remembrance ceremony for missing loved ones.

Also on Friday night, the Clark Art Institute is kicking off the Williamstown Holiday Walk weekend with "Songs, Shopping, and S’mores" from 5 to 7 p.m. Visitors can roast s’mores over open fire pits, watch an ice sculpture carving demonstration, and listen to holiday caroling led by Williams College a cappella groups, all held on the Clark Center terrace. 

Staying in Williamstown, the Holiday Walk takes place on Saturday, Dec. 6, starting with the Reindog Parade at 3 p.m. Afterward, as always, fun and musical talent will fill the street, with performers from around the region. Santa and his elves will be on Spring Street to hear the wishes of children. Children will also be able to decorate gingerbread cookies in the former Sweets & Beans location, sponsored by Hops & Vines. Other highlights include Williamstown Community Chest's annual Penny Social, which will run from 3 to 6 p.m. in Lasell Gym on the corner of Spring and Main streets from 3 to 6 p.m., and the Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity Christmas Tree Showcase from 2 to 6 p.m. at the First Congregational Church across the street on Main Street. For a complete lineup, visit the Chamber of Commerce website.

And down in Dalton on Sunday, Dec. 7, the Pediatric Development Center will present its annual Breakfast with Santa at the Wahconah Country Club, 20 Orchard Road, with seatings at 9 and 11 a.m. Reservations are required. Purchase tickets online at www.pediatricdevelopmentcenter.org or contact the Pediatric Development Center at 413-499-4537.

Obviously, there are lot of options. But here's the event I want to highly recommend: On Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6 and 7, at 6 p.m., more than 20 children from the Williamstown community (including my daughter!) will perform a Christmas play called "We Three Spies" at the Community Baptist Church on Bridges Road. This is the church's annual children's Christmas musical, and it's a fun, family-friendly hour of dancing, singing and adorable little faces rejoicing in the season. Everyone is welcome, and cookies will follow the performance.

Happy holidays!



     
Are We There Yet?: Warm Up On a Cold Weekend
By Rebecca Dravis On: 11:18AM / Friday November 07, 2014
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I posted a picture on the iBerkshires Facebook page the other day that said that Christmas was coming despite the mild weather we were having. As is common around these parts, two days later brings another story.

Man, is it cold! And the forecast for the weekend is not looking much better, with temperatures hovering only in the 40s. I know, it's November in the Berkshires, so what do I expect? And this column is not a weather report. So onward with some good (indoor) family choices for this weekend.

And what better way to keep warm than to snuggle in your jammies? Tonight, Friday, Nov. 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield will host  WeeMuse Pajama Night. The event, now in its third year, is free and open to the public. Each gallery will feature different stories and storytellers – for example, visit the aquarium to hear a story about the ocean; explore Spark!Lab and hear about inventors and inventions; and in Berkshire Backyard, listen to stories about woodland creatures just like those who live right here in Western Massachusetts. Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House series, and her sister, Natalie Pope Boyce, author of the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker series, will be special guest readers. An array of local officials and personalities will also be guest readers, including Van Shields, the museum’s executive director. Fun, educational and warm; can't beat that!

The Berkshire Mall is likely to be a warm spot on Saturday, Nov. 8, when the 19th annual Community Baby Shower will be held in the mall's Center Court. This free event, co-hosted by Child Care of the Berkshires and Berkshire North WIC, is for pregnant women and their partners, parents, and grandparents of young children. Agencies from throughout Berkshire County will be present and will have information on a variety of topics related to pregnancy and parenting young children. Some of the topics include infant development, nutrition, breastfeeding, infant care, preparing for baby’s birth, the importance of early literacy, and selecting child care, as well as many community resources for families and children. Additional activities at the event include blood pressure screening, craft activities for children and parents, and a StoryWalk featuring the book "Where the Wild Things Are." Nothing is as warming as thinking about babies ...

... except maybe volcanoes! Also on Saturday, Indie pop siren Elska, who has purportedly discovered a newly formed volcanic island off the coast of Iceland and makes “crazy awesome electronic funderworld faerie tunes for the whole family,” will perform a concert at Mass MoCA in North Adams at 2 p.m. And apparently, she’s the Bjork of kids’ music ... which might not mean anything to kids, but maybe some of their parents will know Bjork. And the volcanic island thing? You'll just have to see for yourself. (Seriously, because I don't really understand what that's all about just from looking her up on the Internet. If you go and find out, let me know!) Tickets are $8.

My last pick is a shout-out to Betsy Reali, the awesome music teacher at Williamstown Elementary School. She has helped organize a Veterans Day concert at 6:30 p.m. on Monday that features the Sixth Grade Chorus, Sixth Grade Band and Girl Scout Cadette Troop 40003. The concert is titled "United We Honor Our Heroes, Our Home: WES Sings for our Veterans" and will be held in the Williamstown Elementary School auditorium at 115 Church St. The concert is free and open to the public. Anyone who has ever seen one of the WES sixth-grade musicals knows what an amazing job Miss Reali does with the kids.

I'm sure this concert will warm your heart.

 

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.

 



     
Are We There Yet?: Halloween Times Two
By Rebecca Dravis On: 09:50PM / Thursday October 30, 2014
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I don't think anyone gets Halloween off from work or school, but somehow it feels like a three-day weekend, doesn't it?

First off, if you're going trick-or-treating Friday night, stay safe. I'm sure you know the drill but here are some tips just in case you want a reminder.

You might as well keep the Halloween fun going into the evening of Saturday, Nov. 1.  Starting at 5 p.m., the Mason Library in Great Barrington is hosting a free Community Halloween Party. The kids party starts at 5 p.m. with "spirited" storytelling by Tim Van Egmond, a folksinger and storyteller who performs throughout New England. Devilish pizza and creepy cupcakes follow from 6 to 6:30. Children of all ages are welcome. At 6:30, the grownups' party begins with performances by Berkshire Sings and Berkshire Ukelele Band. The free party includes a buffet with fiery grilled quesadillas, the devil's q-tips, warm cider, beer and wine. The lights will be off and projections, including the silent film "Nosferetu," will play against the library walls while a dimly lit bat chandelier dangles from the center of the room. Costumes are encouraged. 

Up Route 7 a ways, the Lenox Dale Fire Company will host its annual Halloween Parade, which will begin at 7 p.m. at St. Vincent dePaul Church on Crystal Street and proceed through the village, ending at the fire station on Elm Street. A party for the children will follow at the fire station; prizes will be awarded for the best costumes.

Had enough Halloween? The Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield is hosting a family board game day from 1 to 3 p.m. Kids of all ages are welcome to come play and compete in a wide variety of games, all provided by the library. Remember the joys of Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Scrabble and Jenga while trying out dozens of exciting and new board games. This family event is free. No registration is required but children under 10 must be accompanied at all times by an adult.

Then on Sunday, Nov. 2, you'll be well-rested for a new adventure, because you will "fall behind" at 2 a.m. and therefore get an extra hour of sleep. (It's the most wonderful day of the year, truly.) What adventure is that? Have you been to the "new" Clark Art Institute yet? If not, today's the day.

The Clark Art Institute will hold its first Family Day since its grand reopening in the summer from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Freedom Family Day is held in conjunction with the final day of the Clark’s exhibition "Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution," which features six documents critical to the formation of American democracy. Freedom Family Day features family-friendly gallery talks, David Grover and Friends leading sing-alongs featuring songs about peace, love and freedom; art-making projects and more. All activities and admission are free.

Oh, and don't forget to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Yes, it should be a family event. Bring the kids and let them see democracy in action. Just don't let them put the ballot in the machine. The election monitors really don't like that!

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.



     
Are We There Yet?: Halloween Is Just Beginning
By Rebecca Dravis On: 12:18PM / Friday October 24, 2014
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Get your Halloween on this weekend ... and prepare to party for a full week!

I admit, Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays. It always seems to rain (or snow, a la 2012) and my daughter STILL has to go trick or treating. I suck it up and take her because I was not allowed to trick or treat when I was a child. (My mom had her reasons; I've gotten over it.)

Then there's the candy ... oh, all that candy. Who needs it? Well, ironically, my daughter kind of does. As a child with type one diabetes, she chooses to treat low blood sugars with candy. Did you know Smarties have the same chemical makeup as the official diabetic-friendly glucose tabs - but taste much better? So we pick out the Smarties (and other assorted good-for-treating-lows candy like Nerds and Starburst) and then we have a pile left ... from which she then picks out a few she wants to actually eat, non-reliant on blood sugar levels, and leaves the rest for the "switch witch" to come take and leave her a toy.

It's all so exhausting. And let me tell you, the switch witch doesn't need all that candy, either.

But I am indeed gearing up to start this weekend. Here are some Halloween-themes picks for family fun.

On Saturday, Oct. 25, Fairview Hospital’s Outpatient Rehabilitation team will host the 2014 Monster Dash, a fun 5k run/walk and a 1-mile walk starting at 10 Maple Ave. in Great Barrington, the site of Fairview’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Service.  All ages and abilities are welcome to run and walk and people are encouraged to wear a costume. Race day registration takes place from 8 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. in the Rehabilitation Department.

Moving along, "Beetlejuice" will be shown for free at 11 a.m. at the North Adams Movieplex. Those who bring in a non-perishable food item will be entered to win prizes.

Next up, the Berkshire Humane Society will be hosting a Halloween Adoption Party at Purradise, located at 301 Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington, from noon to 3 p.m. In addition to shelter animals up for adoption, there will be lots of fun activities for the entire family, including face painting, games and a costume contest.

Wrapping up Saturday is a party at the Great Barrington Fairgrounds. Starting at 4 p.m., there will be a pumpkin carving contest (bring your own pumpkin), followed by a 6 p.m. screening of "The Nightmare Before Christmas," followed by a bonfire. Costumes are encouraged but bring a blanket (or two or three).

Moving along to Sunday, Oct. 26, head to the Berkshire Mall for the annual "Malloween" celebrration from noon to 2 p.m. Kids can go store to store to collect candy and then join Live 95.9 in the food court for games and prizes and even more candy (yay).

Then at 4 p.m., watch or join in the Adams Lions Club's annual Halloween parade for children. Children, in costume, are asked to gather at 4 p.m. at the Adams Community Bank Center Street parking lot. The parade will step off at 4:30 pm, with marchers heading from Center Street to the east side of Park Street, then turning right onto East Maple Street to the Depot Street lot. In the Depot Street lot, the Adams Lions Club trailer will serve hot dogs and refreshments and the club will award prizes for the best costumes.

And if you're already looking toward the actual holiday, click here for our list of trick-or-treat hours.

Happy haunting.

 

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.

 



     
Are We There Yet?: Help Find a Cure for Type One Diabetes
By Rebecca Dravis On: 11:12AM / Friday October 10, 2014
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This column is brought to you by the department of shameless promotions.

But keep reading. It's for a good reason!

I have a little girl who has been living with type one diabetes for four years now. She wears two "gadgets" attached to her body, deals with blood sugar highs and lows, and never really feels "normal." It's a lot for anyone to deal with, much less a sweet 8-year-old. We are so very close to amazing technology (bionic pancreas) that would make living with this difficult disease much easier ... and maybe even a cure, as Thursday's news out of Harvard was amazing.

All year round, I do everything I can to promote awareness of this disease that affects around 3 million Americans but is much less understood than type two diabetes. But this time of the year, as we approach the annual JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes that we participate in, I kick into high gear with the raising of awareness - and money to help find that next step and ultimately that cure.

First, the awareness: In type one diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease, the pancreas has basically failed and does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Healthy people have pancreases that produce the right amount of insulin at the right times; type one diabetics have to take insulin externally, either via shots or an insulin pump, every time they eat, calculating the amount of insulin they need based on the amount of carbohydrates in the food they are eating, their activity level, their stress level ... the list goes on and on of things that affect blood sugar, making it incredibly hard to manage the levels like a functioning pancreas would.

Stupid pancreas.

In type two diabetes, which is a metabolic disorder, usually the pancreas still makes insulin, but the body cannot use the insulin properly for various reasons.

OK, on to the fundraising part: I'm a big believer in the cliche of putting "fun" into fundraising, because asking for money just for the sake of money is hard! So this weekend, I have planned two fundraisers for my little girl's Walk to Cure Diabetes team that I hope will raise money to aid those wonderful folks working so hard to give her and the other 3 million folks a better life.

First on Saturday, Oct. 11, is a Progressive Palette painting party in Williamstown from 2-4 p.m. This is $35 a ticket and is for adults and kids over the age of 8. This requires you to register and pay online in advance, and there are only a few spots left, so if you read this and want to go, click here ASAP. All snacks and instruction are included!

Then on Monday is a movie morning at the North Adams Move Plex. For $5 per person (cash only please) you can see "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" on opening weekend! The movie starts at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, which is Columbus Day and appears to be cool and rainy - the perfect day for a movie!

OK, shameless promotion department is closed. Other weekend activities include the Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival both days, the opening of the Spark!Lab at the Berkshire Museum on Saturday, Octoberfest from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday in Monterey, the Medieval Faire at Ventfort Hall in Lenox on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Ramblefest in Adams from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Whatever you do, enjoy the long weekend.

 



     
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News Headlines
Outdoor Life Honors BNRC with 2014 Open Country Award
Adams Community Bank Employees Donate Over $22,000
MCLA Named A Best Value For Public Colleges
Berkshire Museum Now Accepting BerkShares
Pittsfield Historical Commission Sets 2015 Priorities
Battalion Drops One-Goal Decision in Western Pa.
Pittsfield Weighs Construction Manager Model For New Taconic
Backstop Repairs Drain Last of Pittsfield's Bossidy Funds
Berkshire Battalion Loses Second Straight
McCann Students Lauded for Leadership & Skill Building

 




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Are We There Yet?: Take A Moment to Breathe This Weekend
Are We There Yet?: Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
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Are We There Yet?: Halloween Times Two
Are We There Yet?: Halloween Is Just Beginning
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