Santa Claus will return to Spring Street as Williamstown's annual Holiday Walk focuses on concentrating activities in the downtown area.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — This year, Santa Claus will be traveling from the North Pole to the south end of Spring Street.
Holiday Walk, the town's signature kickoff to the yuletide season, again will allow children to visit Saint Nick at The Log, the former Williams College Alumni House at the bottom of Spring Street.
"He used to be there, but the last five years, he was moved to (Main Street's) Williamstown Savings Bank," Holiday Walk co-organizer Joan Jones said.
"What we're doing is we're trying to get (Holiday Walk) back to being more on Spring Street. Over the last few years, it started to expand. You didn't have a concentrated number of people on Spring Street."
This year's event, scheduled for Dec. 1, will put the town center front and center.
As always, Holiday Walk will open with the Reindog Parade down Spring Street. And Santa, who traditionally brings up the rear, will go right from the parade route to his station at The Log from 4 to 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the street, the Williamstown Community Chest's Penny Social non-profit fair returns to Williams' Lasell Gymnasium from 4 to 7.
In between Holiday Walk's two anchors is plenty to keep the crowds strolling.
"We added a bunch of new things," Jones said. "The first is an annual holiday bakeoff. People from around the area, kids or adults, whatever, can participate. I think they'll need to bring two-dozen cookies to enter. And there will be judging with a cash prize for the winner. We'll have a panel of official judges and a 'people's choice' award."
The bakeoff will be free of charge, but there will be a suggested donation with proceeds to benefit the Berkshire Food Project.
The Log also will be the site of this year's performance of "A Christmas Carol" by Jeff Welch and Drew Gibson. It's a more high-profile location than recent years, when the performance was held in sites on Main Street and Southworth Street.
"I think this will be much better," Jones said. "A lot of people didn't know where it was before."
The hugely popular Reindog Parade will kick off the festivities on Dec. 1.
Elsehwere on Spring Street, organizers plan a kids' activity corner in the courtyard outside the Purple Pub with cornhole games, face-painting, and a toy drive organized by Williamstown's Boy Scouts.
And to get everyone in the holiday spirit, Holiday Walk will feature music — lots of music.
Four Williams College a capella groups will perform, along with the Flatbed jazz Band (site TBA), the Wlliamstown Elementary School Band (inside Goff's), the Pine Cobble Choir (near Library Antiques), the St. Stanislaus Kostka School Bell Choir (at the Harrison Gallery), the Bennington Children's Choir and the Hoosac Valley High School Choir (on the Post Office steps).
The Northern Berkshire Chorale will perform near the end of the evening and lead a closing caroling procession down Spring Street to the large fir tree across from Tunnel City Coffee. There, a tree lighting ceremony will be held to close Holiday Walk and get the holidays going.
Holiday Walk is sponsored by the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce. Jones and Mary Shine are volunteering to organize this year's edition.
"I love Holiday Walk, but it sort of fizzled, I felt, by last year," Jones said. "I wanted to get involved to make it fun again. Hopefully, that will happen. ... We're trying to work with the merchants and get them involved, and people are excited about it, I think."
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