Holiday on the Hill and the Children’s Holiday Parade were held on Federal Hill, on Saturday, Dec. 8, as a way to ring in the holiday season.
The evening kicked off with the Children’s Parade, led by the American Legion Forestville Post 209, and the Central Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. The parade concluded at the Federal Hill gazebo, where Holiday on the Hill Committee members, Maria Salice and Sheila Kelley, emceed the carol sing, while attendees had a chance to meet Santa Claus.
Community members and singers, Jena Doolittle, Allen Stone, and Salice, joined the Sharp 5 Jazz band to perform in the holiday concert, playing classics such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Let It Snow,” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
Joining Sharp 5 Jazz were performers Rachel Beaudoin and Jim Hahn, who played an acoustic version of “Mr. Grinch,” as well as musical director and conductor of the Bristol Brass and Wind Ensemble, Rich Theriault, whose saxophone added a bit of jazz to “The Christmas Song”.
During their last rehearsal before the concert, Doolittle, Salice, and Stone said playing with Sharp 5 Jazz was a real treat, and that there’s nothing like playing with a live band.
Sharp 5 has been playing and performing together for three years. Members Greg Hahn (trumpet and flugelhorn) and Ed Wrobel (drums) had been playing together for some time when they decided to look for a band to play with. Eventually, they met Ben Boylan (upright bass) and Josh Peters (piano). Hahn introduced the rest of the members to Jeremy Osterling (tenor saxophone), who he knew from playing together in a big band. Sharp 5 Jazz will next perform in January, at the Buttonwood Tree in Middletown.
“I look forward to playing for kids, it’ll be a blast,” said Wrobel.
Newcomers and event veterans alike drank hot chocolate provided by the Bristol Fire Department, and ate hot dogs, whose purchase supported the St. Joseph School’s sports booster club.
For some attendees the event was nostalgic, such as Mickey and Lisa Goldwasser, who met at the annual carol sing 33 years ago, and just celebrated their 30 year wedding anniversary. For others, it was a chance to experience a new side of Bristol, such as the newly crowned Miss Chrysanthemum, Kayla Paulette. While she had not before attended Holiday on the Hill, Paulette said it was “super exciting” to be there, “walking around and greeting new people.”
“About 25 years ago a group of business owners founded the parade in reverse, which has been a holiday tradition for two generations. We would meet here on a Sunday afternoon and go downtown,” said Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu.
Now, Zoppo-Sassu explained, the chamber of commerce and the Professional Young Visionaries of Tomorrow decided to “tweak the event and give it an updated look.”
“I love how many different pieces of our community have come together to produce this event,” said Zoppo-Sassu.
Those producing event include the chamber and PYVOT, who organized and put on the event in three months, according to chamber President and CEO, Cindy Bombard; the City Arts and Culture Commission, who sponsored the holiday concert; the various businesses and community groups who lined the parade route to hand out treats; and even Bristol Hospital and the Bristol Homecare and Hospice subgroup, whose fund raiser, Lights of Love, provided residents with a chance to light a luminary in honor of their loved ones.
Donna Marrero, the hospice clinical coordinator and program director at Bristol Hospital, explained that this was an additional fundraiser for the Lights of Love campaign that begins in November. And while insurance does sometimes cover hospice care, the funds raised through Lights of Love support services that insurance may not cover, such as massage therapy, supplementing rent, or even hosting a celebration such as an anniversary.
“It’s all about promoting comfort, dignity, and peace at the end of someone’s life,” said Marrero.
Marrero said over 100 luminaries had been pre-purchased prior to Holiday on the Hill, and were used to light the pathway leading to the First Congregational Church, where the holiday concert took place.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.