Holiday cheer swept across the Connecticut River on Friday night as Greenfield and Turners Falls hosted their annual celebrations.
In Greenfield, the first of three days of Jinglefest was held with events across downtown, while Turners Falls celebrated the 10th anniversary of “It’s a Wonderful Night in Turners Falls”.
People packed the Pushkin Gallery early Friday afternoon, eager to check out the various vendors and artists available as the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center pop-up store opened for a three-day stay.
“The turnout is already great,” said Dawn Leahy, who helped organize the event. “We had people show up at 3 pm. ”
Craftsmen sold products ranging from kitchen towels to welded sculptures. Leahy said the magic of the pop-up store is the variety of products available.
“Everyone is very unique, it’s just really cool,” she said. “It’s fantastic.… They are so talented and to be able to present them is wonderful.
Leahy was delighted that people were meeting again for the holidays. She added that there may be another pop-up store in the Pushkin Gallery on December 18.
Hannah Reiff, from Wendell, ran a table for her skin care product company, Hannah’s Skincare. She said she was “totally” thrilled to have the opportunity to move to the Pushkin Gallery and get into the real world of product sales.
“I only made one (deal),” Reiff said. “I mainly sell online. ”
Ben Goldsher, director at Hawks & Reed, said that “it’s so good” to bring people out because “we all need some kind of connection”.
He said something like Jinglefest, which invigorates the city center, has a long tradition.
“We have such a cool city. … It’s so nice to bring in strangers, ”Goldsher said. “This is the fourth year that we have been doing this and we hope to do it for a long time.
Next door at the LAVA Center were several other vendors, a craft station for kids, and community art on display.
“I like that it’s on the earlier side, so we don’t go out until 10 am,” said Marika Weissman, a resident of Colrain, who had her two children with her. “We are just happy that this continues. ”
Vendors like Susan Worgaftik and Patti Williams had set up shop to sell their organic products.
“It’s wonderful to have a community space right in the middle of town,” said Williams.
LAVA center director Vanessa Query noted that the center had worked with neighboring businesses in the past, but Jinglefest was the first time it had been involved in a coordinated city-wide effort.
“I was really excited to participate,” Query said. “The local economy is very important, now more than ever. ”
Query added that it’s great to get people to hang out and socialize even though “we’re still in the pandemic.”
“We have to go out and have a sense of community,” Query said. “It’s really rewarding.
She said community art will be available for viewing and purchase until December 18, the same day as Hawks & Reed’s next pop-up event.
Down the street at the Garden Cinemas, the children were treated to a visit from Santa Claus, who was escorted by Greenfield firefighters, before a free screening of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. The children told Santa what they wanted for Christmas and were able to pick up a free book.
6-year-old Viktor Dusenberry said he was delighted to see Santa Claus and ask him for “cool LEGO sets”. He added that his favorite part of Christmas was “spending time with friends and family”.
Across the river, Turners Falls was also putting in the holiday mood as the A Avenue businesses stayed open until 8 p.m. and Santa had made his way to Spinner Park. The event is part of a month-long celebration hosted by RiverCulture and will continue next weekend with more shopping and live music offerings.
Arrived on a school bus and performed by local musicians Kevin Smith and Jason Mosall, Santa listened to the children’s Christmas greetings, posed for photos, and handed out candy canes while telling the children to keep being good boys and girls.
6-year-old Marcy Will said her favorite part about Christmas was “getting you presents” and she asked Santa for shiny stuffed animals.
Her father, Max Will, said having family events like “It’s a wonderful night in Turners Falls” is nice.
“It’s great,” he said. “You walk through the door and have something to do. ”
Adam Goglin, who brought his son to see Santa Claus, said it was nice to have a more normal holiday season this year.
“It’s wonderful,” Goglin said. “It’s great to see this stuff again. ”
Local businesses such as Buckingham Rabbits Vintage also benefited from the celebration.
“(Business) is definitely going,” said owner Alex McGuigan. “It’s nice to have a more normal holiday season. ”
She said that whenever RiverCulture hosts events, everyone in the Turners Falls retail community comes together.
“Any chance we have to coordinate as a retail community, we jump on that,” McGuigan said, “mostly because (business) has been so dispersed.”
McGuigan even hosted “last minute carols” to spread the Christmas sentiment throughout town.
RiverCulture director Suzanne LoManto said the fact that Santa Claus didn’t personally visit the children last year was “a bit heartbreaking” – Santa instead toured the five villages of Montague on a fire engine.
“I love it every year,” LoManto said of the joy on children’s faces seeing Santa Claus. “It’s a beautiful night. We hope people will buy local.
Plus, she said the newly redesigned Spinner Park site was the perfect place for Santa to greet the kids.
“Spinner Park was redesigned in part because we wanted to host events like this,” LoManto said. “The park really works.
LoManto said people should keep their eyes peeled for more events like pop-up shops and musical performances as Christmas approaches.
Chris Larabee can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4081.