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  • Stephen D'Agostino

The Giving Tree Is Up At Town Hall

Exit the season of the witch (if I may quote Donovan), and enter the season of the wind. Yes, I am talking about gusty breezes for the second week in a row. Of the three recent wind events, last week’s was the worse. The Moravian stars, which had only banged around on the porch in the previous wind storm, came apart during this one. The blue member of the quartet was missing half the points that make up its intricate pattern. The other three also lost some of their points.

Luckily, we found all but one of the pieces of the stars that had blown off. The stars come with replacement parts, so all of them will have their 26 points when they go back outside after they are reassembled.

A lot of Reading lost power in that storm. At the time I write this, the generator has been humming along now for nearly 72 hours. By the time this column hits the newsstands, this power outage will be a distant memory.

What will be a cherished memory is the fun of Fright Night. The weather was a bit of a scare, but it didn't stop kids from trick-or-treating around the village. I think I was the only hunch-shouldered individual on the library steps as Tony handed out candy, and I watched kids vote for the best carved pumpkin.

The winners of that contest were Kasia Sluka, Ollie Lord, and Everett Mullins. The best trunk for Trunk-or-Treating went to Deana Champney for her festive transition of the flatbed of her pickup.

And congratulations to Esther Allen and to Jon Springer for winning the Best Scarecrow Contest. I am amazed at how many different ways people can make scarecrows. They’re not just for leaves and old clothes anymore. Jon’s headless horseman, complete with a kid’s metal rocking horse, is case in point.

However, the real winner last week was Reading. Though we don’t have a prize to give the whole town, the town itself should be proud for the number of scarecrows that adorned Route 106 through Felchville, the number of carved pumpkins on the library steps—even with our now shrunken school—the number of people who braved the elements in their clever and creative costumes, and the number of votes for the scarecrows (a whopping 124!).

There are many chances to continue this community spirit this month. Two upcoming events need an RSVP by tomorrow, November 8. The first is the Annual Community Turkey Dinner. That happens on November 13 at noon at Town Hall. The cost is $5 for what is always a great feast. All you have to do is send Tom Brennan an email ( or call him (484-0276) and say, "yes, please."

Second, you need to RSVP by tomorrow for the 3rd annual PTO Chili Cook-Off. This event happens on Saturday, November 23. To do so, email Barbara Lord ( Then get to work perfecting your best chili recipe, one that is kid-friendly (not too spicy). There is no fee to enter your chili. For people who want to play the crucial role of judging who makes Reading’s best chili, show up to Town Hall on November 23, between 11am to 1pm and give all the entries a try. Then cast your vote for the winner. The cost for judges is $5 for adults and $1 for children.

What I thought was special about last year's chili cook-off was how people hung out, many for the full two hours, sampling the chili and chatting. It was a nice way to spend the mid-day.

I intend to enter this year with what Bill and I call "best chili ever." I am determined to unseat Wade Mullins as chili cook-off champ. Or at least to do better than the two votes I got last year with what I thought was a sure winner.

On that same day is the Reading PTO pie sale, which happens from 8am to noon at Town Hall. There will be apple, pumpkin, coconut, and who knows what else. Buying a pie at the PTO pie sale serves three great purposes. First, it helps support the school's PTO. Second, if you can keep from eating the pie you purchase before Turkey Day, you'll have less stress to deal with if you are hosting Thanksgiving or were given dessert duty at the place you'll be celebrating. Third, it is another way to help support our community—simply by buying a pie.

Finally, one of my favorite events—or efforts, really—of the entire year is the Giving Tree. It is up now at Town Hall. If you are not familiar with this, the tree holds several numbered cards. Each card lists a gift idea for a needy child in our area. You can grab one from the tree, purchase the gift noted on it, and return the card and the present to Town Hall by December 3. Remember, do not wrap the gift. I'm terrible at wrapping, so this rule makes participation in the Giving Tree even easier!

Happy anniversary to Michael and Ginny Barr (November 11), and Jim and Diane Bennett (November 12).

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

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on November 7, 2019.

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