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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Holiday Walk Delights

By Linda Carman
12:00AM / Saturday, December 10, 2005

Spring Street comes alive.
More photos here
WILLIAMSTOWN - Santa rode down Spring Street on the back of a fire truck Saturday [Dec.10] in what has become an annual Holiday Walk tradition here, hailed and waved to by small, bundled-up children.


MOVIES
Carolers Singing
Flutes in the Post Office
Horse drawn carriage
Santa on Fire Truck
Marchers on Main St.
Church Bells Ring



This year, for the first time, he also set up Santa's workshop in the lobby of the Williamstown Savings Bank, where throngs of small youngsters waited to tell him their wishes for Christmas presents.

Hayden Noel Gillooly, 6, of North Adams nodded energetically when asked if she enjoyed her visit on Santa's knee. Hayden said she told Santa she wants "Harry Potter stuff, and elephants."
Prompted by her father Christopher Gillooly, Hayden said "I got a letter from Santa" that very morning in which he said he shared her fondness for those items.

A beaming and bemused Stephen Crowe watched the stream of little ones and their parents.

"This is incredibly exciting," said Crowe, who is the bank president. "When [Santa] came, all the kids clapped and yelled."

Assistant branch manager Mary Morrow said youngsters started waiting in line to see Santa by 3:30 p.m.

Many others, however, lined Spring Street for the parade. Among them were Gregory Kucinski, 2 1/2, and Aleks Kucinski, 5, of Holyoke, here with their grandparents Gail and Ron O'Brien of North Adams, on their first time visit to Holiday Walk.

Asked what he planned to ask Santa for, Gregory replied, "Prressents!"

Michael and Bernadine Williams, making sure their children Ellie, 7, and Fiona, 3, were properly mittened, said they were new in town and attending their first Holiday Walk.

"We'll come from now on," Michael Williams said.

The sidewalks were full of Holiday Walk first-timers, including Sarah and Jason McNair, who just moved here from San Francisco. Their son Jonah, 3, replied "Yeah!" when asked if he was looking forward to seeing Santa.

Ethan Sheppard, 4, beamed at the sight of Santa, and waved energetically.

Ethan was accompanied by parents Tony Sheppard and Lara Shore-Sheppard, and sister Maya, 18 months old.

Serving in dual roles as Town Crier and Colonel Ephraim Williams, Steve Lawson, who is usually executive director of the Williamstown Film Festival, led off the parade.

The "reindogs," which are perennial crowd pleasers, ranged from pomeranians to Great Pyrenees, and included bassets, a red-bone hound that gave voice, a mini-dachshund, and perhaps the most fashionable, a mini-Doberman pinscher wearing a green velvet ruff.

Veterinarian Katie Wolfgang held Chumbly, a Jack Russell
terrier wearing a Hanukkah bear, decorated with a dreidl, and Sirius, a black labrador wearing a collar and antlers, both of which lit up with tiny lights.

Next to the Richard A. Ruether American Legion Post 152 post home on Latham Street, two fuzzy donkeys and an equally fuzzy pony held the attention of Isabel Leonard, 3.

Her father Kevin Leonard said "She liked Santa. She started yelling at him, 'I want a bicycle.'"

Some Holiday Walkers talked into their cellphones. "We saw Santa," one woman said into her phone.
Pausing at the foot of Spring Street, Clip, a 7-year-old Percheron, and Paddy, a 7-year-old Belgian, pulled wagon-loads of delighted children and grownups up to the top of the street and back again, letting off one group of passengers and picking up the next.

Antoine Fahey, the driver, of Colonial Carriage rides of Arlington, Vt., said the team has given wagon rides for the past four years at the Holiday Walk. As Fahey talked, Clip gently tried nibbling the end of a reporter's notebook, not very tasty.

Where'd You Get That!? drew plenty of shoppers. Michele Gietz, who owns the shop with her husband Ken, said "People are showing great holiday spirit. People are smiling."

At the door, greeter Caitlin Bates wore a green elf hat and a necklace of tiny twinkling lights.

"Where else can you wear a get-up like this and not be made
fun of?" Bates exclaimed.

At the bank, aka Santa's Workshop, Richard and Meg Dodds and Rita Hoar, members of a House of Local History contingent, wore period costumes to sell copies of "Williamstown: It's First 250 Years," the expanded town history which the bank helped make possible.

"We've sold well over 40 copies," Hoar said.

The First Congregational Church offered double-barrelled holiday fare.

The second annual Alternative Gift Fair drew 20 organizations such as Heifer International, Berkshire Food Project, Sudan Relief Task Force, Wild Oats Co-operative, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation and Students for Social Justice. Members of these organizations had items such as calendars and note cards or, in the case of Ioka Valley Farm, jams, jellies and maple syrup, for sale.

Sue O'Reilly, a 3d grade teacher at Williamstown Elementary School, had calendars for sale and samples of books she and volunteers will take to Guatemala. Among the books were Maurice Sendak's Done Viven Los Monstruos (the cover art may be more familiar as Where the Wild Things Are) and Buenos Noches Luna (Good Night, Moon).

The diminutive Christmas trees at the Habitat for Humanity Christmas Tree Showcase were uniformly pretty, but some, when peered at closely, proved inventive as well, none more so than the classes in various subjects from McCann Technical School.

Who but auto shop students would decorate a tree with spark plugs and wrenches, and set the tree in a sturdy lawn tractor tire?

McCann's dental assistant program students decorated a tree with teeth and floss, while the office technology students strung together computer keys to create a garland.

Asked what draws him and his family to Holiday Walk, Steve Pelletier said, "Getting all the people out in the community, and being able to stop and talk."

At the Wild Oats table, a woman who didn't want to give her name, said peace symbols were selling briskly.

Musical groups could have bumped into one another, had members not been so immersed in the spirit of the season. At intervals on Spring Street and on Water Street, songsters took turns singing holiday favorites.




Goff's Sports shop window, transformed into a miniature village and ski resort, drew lots of gazers, children and adults alike.
One window held a village, with a church, buildings, houses, a toy train clicking around its track, a gondola ski lift and bob-sledders.

By pushing a button beside the other window, a tiny theater drew its red velvet curtain and changed its sets for a performance of The Nutcracker. Tiny, tiny ballerinas danced to the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Waltz of the Flowers.

At the head of Spring Street, a group of police officers agreed that this year the weather cooperated by giving strollers and spectators mild weather.

"Not like a couple of years ago," Sgt. Scott McGowan said, referring to a frigid wind that spat sleet into the cringing faces of those hardy enough to visit the street in the first place, and instantly extinguishing all the luminaria. This year, those candles
glowed brightly.

Police Officer Michael Ziemba said Blue, the department's popular bloodhound tracking dog, could not join the reindog parade because she was on duty.

"She wouldn't have anything to do with it," Ziemba said.

A 2005 Holiday Walk multi-photograph slideshow can be seen by clicking here

MOVIES
Carolers Singing
Flutes in the Post Office
Horse drawn carriage
Santa on Fire Truck
Marchers on Main St.
Church Bells Ring
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