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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Reading’s Holiday Celebrations Were A Huge Success

What a day last Saturday was in Reading! Everything seemed to come together perfectly for the three annual events that happened as part of the town’s holiday celebration. There was a blanket of fresh snow on the ground. The day was bright, the sky so perfectly blue that it made me wonder if I'd ever before seen it look so dazzling. And though it was cold, it was the kind of cold that welcomes you outside. While walking from the wreath sale at the library back to the craft fair (more on those soon), I saw Heather Evans and a friend sitting on her porch in the sunlight. It looked so inviting. I wanted to join them, but I had to get back to Town Hall.

The 2019 craft fair marks the fourth time the Reading Historical Society has sponsored this event. Having made and sold handmade soap and candles for several years, I know a thing or two about craft fairs. I came to realize that they often start slow, with folks arriving after maybe thirty minutes. Last Saturday, ninety minutes after our show started, the crowd I expected had yet to materialize.

When I returned from the wreath sale, I noticed that things had changed. People had started showing up. I also noticed that many of the faces were not familiar. By 1pm, with only one hour left in the show, the place was humming. In fact, it was loud!

I spoke with one person who said she had just come back into town after her daughter's ballet lessons. Others, I think, may have gone to the different fairs in the area before coming to the Reading show.

As the vendors were packing up, a few of them told me they were ready to sign up for next year. One woman who has exhibited with us three times said it was the best year she’s had with us. One vendor came up to me after the show and said she was so impressed with the turnout, her sales, and the spirit. That is one of the comments that I love hearing about this show. Other variations of the same message note that it is a "sweet show," "a show with a lot of heart," and "a great small-town event." To that, I would say, “Yes. That sounds like Reading.”

The Reading Historical Society has some data to mull over when we plan next year’s fair. Given the success of this event, I can tell you there will be a fair next year. For now, thank you to all who attended and thank you to all who vended—from four-time veterans to people who set up a booth for the very first time. It was a rousing success!

Another rousing success was the Second Annual Wreath Sale, sponsored by the Reading Green Spaces Committee. This event was held on the stairs of the library, a fitting location since it is right next door to Puddledock Park, the green space that the aforementioned committee is focusing on. All the wreaths sold, and with the help of a generous donation, the committee raised a substantial sum of money for the beautification of the park!

The 2019 Reading Holiday Tree at Puddledock Park at the end of the 3rd Annual Tree Lighting.

And of course, the final rousing success was the Third Annual Tree Lighting. That happened at Puddledock Park Saturday evening. There, event-goers played a magic trick on me, one that frays my nerves and then thrills me. With twelve minutes to go until start time, fellow commissioner Gerry Marletta noted that the park was empty. Minutes later, the first car pulled into the lot. I stood on the side of the road and looked north. Like the scene near the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I saw figures walking my way, silhouetted in headlights. These weren't long-lost abductees or aliens, of course. They were revelers, ready for fun.

Before long, there were 60 or so people in the park, and it was a nice mix of young and old. After a few introductory remarks, the tree, which was donated by Bob and Esther Allen, was lit. Erika Marletta led the group in candlelit carols. With jack frost nipping at noses and other body parts, we had to wait for the guest of honor indoors. Finally, a firetruck delivered Santa Claus to the library, where he greeted kids and adults alike. After he left and folks hung around enjoying each other's company, some homemade treats, and warm drinks. We all headed home for a long winter's nap. I, for one, needed it!

In the future, perhaps on the 100th anniversary of the Reading Historical Society in 2053, people will look through old photos and newspaper clippings of events that happened on the first Saturday in December 2019, and say that looked like a good day for the town. Some might be nostalgic. Some might say it looked like a perfect way to celebrate life and the holidays in a small town like ours. They wouldn’t be wrong.

Only one birthday to mention this week. Mine (December 13). Yes, that seems weird.

That’s the news from Reading! See you next week!

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