SOUTHINGTON — You might be forgiven if you thought, just for a moment, that your holiday-addled brain saw Jimmy Stewart running through downtown Southington and the village of Plantsville Friday evening, shouting ‘Merry Christmas’ at the people passing by.
The town was certainly doing its best Bedford Falls impression at its annual White Christmas in the Community event. Almost 50 town businesses and organizations flung open their doors, inviting townspeople to partake a bit of good cheer. Trolleys shuttled people between offerings in both the downtown area and Planstville. One even saw a goat walking about wearing red pajamas with gingerbread men on them.
It was a chilly night around the town, but all around little scenes were playing out — family scenes. No drama tonight; just a few charming vignettes to remind everyone that things are indeed going well.
A group of Girl Scouts perched on the steps of the First Congregational Church, singing Christmas carols. Their versions of “Jingle Bell Rock” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” certainly had spirit, even if the timing was a little off. No matter. The parents cheered and girls bounded off the steps to collect a caroling patch. “Alright, now hot chocolate,” a parent called to the group. Ronni Mathews, the scout leader, handed out patches. “This is a fun event,” she said. “It really brings the community together this time of year.”
Madison Mathews, her 12-year-old daughter, put her head on her mother’s shoulder. “No matter how cold it is, it is still fun hanging out with everyone,” Madison said.
Just across the Southington Green, Santa set up shop at American Legion Post 72. Wallingford resident Eileen Selander was with her granddaughters Alexandra and Ella Epple. The little girls were sitting and coloring reindeer pictures with their grandma while their mom waited in the long line for Santa. A divide-and-conquer strategy for holiday cheer. “You see all the smiles on their faces,” Selander said. “They were all excited just pulling into the town.”
It’s not a done deal that the girls will see Santa even if Mom hangs in the line. “One might sit with Santa. The other didn’t even want to wave to him when I was holding her up,” Selander said.
Sean Kearney took a look at the little kids lining up to take a closer look at a fire engine. “They love it when the lights go on,” he said.
Like his young guests Friday evening, Kearney always loved fire trucks. His uncle was a firefighter, as well.
Maybe that’s why he went into to the profession.
“It makes you feel like you are making a difference. Maybe they won’t be afraid to call us if they need us,” said Kearney, a firefighter with Southington’s Co. 1.
Marlana Graziano, Amy Matott, and Melissa Sciarreto have been pals for 20 years and were patronizing Board and Brush Creative Studios on Center Street. Once a month, maybe twice, they come to the studio and make stuff.
It’s a great night out for them. As soon as they realized that their usual night coincided with White Christmas, it was a lock. “We are in. This is our Christmas celebration,” Graziano said.
“We love Christmas,” Matott said, having what one could interpret as a maniacal gleam in her eye.
People wandering into the Gura Building were greeted by the sounds of the Southington Festival Chorale. “Should we hit them with the big guns?” the choir leader asked the singers.
No, that would wait for a moment. A gentle Brahms folk song was up next. A bunch of kids came in the front door and stomped up the stairs. Members of the Southington Community Cultural Arts group were making apple ornaments upstairs. “I think the circus is arriving,” the choir leader said, before launching the chorus into a rousing version of ‘Sleigh Ride.’
“This brings you back to a place when communities were small,” said Paula Knight, a cultural arts board member.