The Orange Holiday Festival Committee works very hard to make the annual event fun for everyone. They can make up a schedule and cram a lot of activities into a very short period of time, but they can’t control the weather.
Even with a steady drizzle putting a damper on things, Sunday’s annual event was far from a washout. Al deCant brought smiles and excitement to children’s faces at the library. New visitors appreciated the history lessons they learned at the Stone-Otis House and Academy Building. And who doesn’t love the new model railroad layout in the Academy basement?
Over at the Congregational Church, the Bell Choir was magnificent as usual and guests were treated to something new, The Amity Chamber Singers performed in the balcony instead of at the traditional spot at the library.
The OVNA building had a lot of wonderful gingerbread creations and the fireplace Ice Sculpture was really something else.
The Case Memorial Library experienced less traffic this year due to two major changes. First, as previously mentioned, the absence of the Chamber Singers, and the “break” that the Friends of the Library took from their sponsored decorated tree display this year.
Two features that were appreciated were deCant’s performance, Letters to Santa, and the “guess how many candies” contest (run by Kim Browe).
Now, in its second year, the tractor parade drew the attention of the entire crowd, with more participants than last year. Led by Blue Fantarella, they slowly rolled up Orange Center Road, big tractors, little tractors, tractors pulling trailers, all beautifully decorated with lights, garland, inflatables, and lighted plastic blown figures.
The Orange Volunteer Fire Department then announced Santa’s arrival with horns and sirens as they delivered the jolly old elf to the bright-eyed children who’d been anticipating the chance to meet him in person.
Because of the rain, First Selectman Jim Zeoli sped things up a little this time so everyone wouldn’t have to spend any more time getting wet than necessary. A young boy, who’d been chosen came forward and flipped the switch with Buddy the Elf, and he was delighted.
Santa took a seat in the trailer that he and his elves made up in the North Pole and welcomed all of the children to come in and share their Christmas wishes. As expected, some little ones were apprehensive and wouldn’t come in without their mommy, but Santa is clever and found a way for nearly every parent to get a photo of their child with him. Even a puppy happily sat for a photo op.
One of the most sincere exchanges was from a group of Amity Chamber Singers who documented their visit with a selfie video, as they asked Santa for acceptance letters to the college of their choice(s).
Thank you to the Committee for their hard work and for pulling off another successful Holiday Festival — even if Mother Nature had other plans.