Cheer up, it’s time for Children’s Holiday Festival

By KAITLYN NAPLES
STAFF WRITER
For the past 22 years, the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce has been sponsoring the Children’s Holiday Festival of Events, a week-long celebration of activities and events to get the community in the holiday spirit.
The 23rd annual festival of events kicks off on Friday, Nov. 29, with the “Festival of Trees” at the Bristol libraries, and the week of celebration ends on Sunday, Dec. 7 with the annual Children’s Holiday Parade.
Starting on Nov. 29, both the main library and Manross Library will have decorated Christmas trees on display, sponsored by the Friends of the Bristol Public Library. Also, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 8, the American Clock and Watch Museum will be offering 10 to 20 percent discounts on various items in its gift shop.
On Sunday, Dec. 1, from 3 to 5 p.m., families can head over to the New England Carousel Museum, 95 Riverside Ave., to enjoy a holiday party with Santa, with refreshments and entertainment.
Downtown Bristol lights up on Tuesday, Dec. 3, starting at 7 p.m. with the 62nd annual Bristol Carol Sing and the 23rd annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony, all taking place at Webster Bank, 150 Main St. The event is held outdoors in front of the main entrance, unless there is inclement weather, and then it will be in the bank lobby.
On Wednesday, Dec. 4, the New England Carousel Museum will be hosting a Holiday Ornament Making Session from 4 to 6 p.m. The cost per ornament is $4, and for more information contact the museum at (860) 585-5411.
The Imagine Nation Museum also will be hosting several events throughout the week, starting with its annual Family Festival where it transforms the museum into Dr. Seuss’ Whoville. The Family Festival will be held on Friday, Dec. 6 from 5 to 8 p.m., and will include crafts, sing-alongs, and special visitors including the Grinch and his friends, and more. There will be food to purchase, and admission is $7 per person. The Imagine Nation Museum will also be hosting a Grinch and Friends Family Breakfast on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 per child, and reservations are required by Wednesday, Dec. 4.
There will be another holiday breakfast on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Giamatti Little League on Mix Street. The 20th annual Breakfast with Santa will be held from 8:30 to 11 a.m., and children under 12-years-old are free, and tickets may be purchased in advance by bringing one new unwrapped toy or a $5 donation, to the Little League Center. Toys will be given to the Secret Santa Society, and for more information call Nancy at (860) 585-4730.
Also Saturday, Dec. 7 will be the 16th annual St. Matthew School Craft/ Vendor Show from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $1, and the show includes hand crafted items, gifts, raffles, baked goods and more, and will be held at the school, 33 Welch Dr.
Anyone is also invited to check out the Ultimate Helicopter LLC, and sit in a real helicopter, on Dec. 7 at 200 Central St., Forestville at its hangar, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
To finish off the week of holiday celebrations is the annual Children’s Holiday Parade, or the “parade in reverse,” on Sunday Dec. 8.
The parade is a little different in that children and families walk from Federal Hill Green, down to Main Street, collecting different kinds of treats and watching various entertainment from vendors, churches and other organizations that are lined up along the street. The parade leaders this year will be the Children’s Holiday Festival Committee, the mayor and elected officials.
At the end of the parade, Bristol firefighters hand out cups of hot chocolate, and will be holding a toy drive during this year’s parade, Linda DiMatteo, executive assistant to the president, vice president of Events and Administrator, and co-chair of the Children’s Holiday Festival Committee, said in a previous interview.
This year, there are several new vendors this year. Additionally, Renaissance Downtowns and Bristol Rising will be holding its “Pop-Up” Winter Wonderland tent on Main Street. DiMatteo said there also will be the annual “Give a Little Warmth” project, which will provide Bristol residents with knitted items such as scarves, hats, mittens and sweaters, and also canned items. Donations can be made on Federal Hill during the parade.
DiMatteo said about 1,500 bags are handed out to children who attend, and every year the event has a huge turnout. She hands out 4,000 booklets about the holiday events to local schools, daycares, libraries and museums so families are aware of the festivities, and the planning begins in August. Anyone needing a booklet can access it and download it from the chamber’s website at www.Central CTChambers.org.
The parade kicks off at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Federal Hill green and will travel down Bellevue Avenue, turn onto High Street and then onto Main Street, ending at the corner of Main and Riverside Avenue. The postponement date of the parade will be Sunday, Dec. 15.
Anyone with questions or concerns regarding the parade, please contact Linda at (860)584-4132 or email L.DiMatteo@CentralCTChambers.org.