SOUTHINGTON — The 27th annual Christmas in the Village event is returning to Plantsville on Thursday, Dec. 8, for the first time in two years since the start of the pandemic.
The event is scheduled from 5:30-8:30 p.m along a closed stretch of West Main Street between the intersection of South Main and Church streets. The event is planned to be free, with activities for children and families of all ages.
The event will start off with young Southington resident Aviyana Picone lighting the Christmas tree, kicking off a parade where Santa will make an appearance riding on a fire truck down to the Company #2 firehouse.
The parade is a new addition to the festivities this year. There will also be a mini Polar Express ride running along West Main Street, hay rides down the linear trail with lighted displays, and ornament-making hosted by Southington Community Cultural Arts at Fireside on Main.
Zingarella will be lighting up their storefront and offering letters to Santa, and Faith Living Church will be hosting an outdoor bonfire with chestnuts to roast. Santa will be taking visits at the Company #2 firehouse, while Mrs. Claus will make an appearance at Precision Realty. Many other businesses along the road will also be open during the event, offering candy to visitors and a warm place to get in from the cold.
“What’s nice is that you’ll stroll outside and the train will be going by and you can take hay rides on the Linear Trail and all of this good stuff, but then if you wanna get toasty warm, you go inside to one of the participating merchants,” said Dawn Miceli, a major volunteer who’s helped organize the event. “It’s really an indoor-outdoor thing, and there will definitely be something for everyone.”
Police will begin closing the roads around the event at around 5 p.m., encouraging drivers to find alternative routes to avoid the traffic.
The Village of Plantsville Association and the Southington Recreation Department are the chief organizers behind the event, with the Southington Rotary Club, UNICO Club of Southington, Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, and others serving as major donors. Their contributions, organizers say, are what keep the event free to all guests.
Weather permitting, organizers are anticipating crowds of a comparable size to the Halloween in the Village event earlier this year — which saw 4,000 people attend. Part of that is expected, after the multi-year absence of the event, along with the cancellation of Southington’s White Christmas event.
“Usually the downtown merchants have something, but they’re not having anything this year. They will be lighting the tree on the green, but that’s about it,” said Dolores Fanelli, co-chair of the Village of Plantsville Association.
“People are excited to get out there into the town again. Everyone was masked and confined to their homes, and now they’re getting out more. So we think that it’s gonna be a good turnout, I think it’s gonna be the same as Halloween.”
Both the Halloween and the Christmas in the Village events are a great way to get people out in the community to support local businesses, organizers said. After the large turnout during Halloween, they hope this celebration will continue to shine a light on local Southington restaurants and businesses that have struggled during the pandemic.
“That’s one of the good things about doing this. It’s an incredible event for children and families, and it’s free. The second thing is it’s an incredible event for the restaurants and the businesses that are down here because they’re getting the exposure from it,” Joanne Alfieri said, the second co-chair of the Village of Plantsville Association. “Anyone that didn’t know they were there, they know they’re there now because they’ve been down there and saw their businesses.”
Other organizations from across Southington are also volunteering their services to the festivities. Southington United Way and the Southington Veterans Service have put effort into bringing the event together, while the Arc of Southington will also be out to distribute toys.
“One of the great things too this year is that we have so many of the local nonprofit groups helping out,” Miceli said, “I really feel like that adds to that community flair for this type of holiday event, and, going to be providing activities for our families.”
A full itinerary of events and list of sponsors is available on the Village of Plantsville Community facebook page.