SOUTHINGTON - As night fell on the town Friday night, on came the holiday lights, with White Christmas in the Community bringing cheer and rekindling memories for hundreds of families.
Sponsored by the Village of Plantsville Association and the Merchants of Downtown Southington, the event saw both downtown Southington and Plantsville transformed into Christmas villages, full of fun things to do and see.
Visitors to downtown Southington could see a Nativity scene on the town green or pet “reindeer” - actually goats - from Bradley Mountain Farms.
Terri Battaglia and Annaliese Dadras of the farm dressed up eight goats in sweaters, hats and fuzzy reindeer horns as their bleating drew crowds of smiling children.
“Unlike cats or dogs, they don’t mind the costumes,” said Battaglia.
“This year the goats aren’t just here to pet, they’re the event ambassadors,” said Dadras. “We’ll be taking them along and bringing people over to the wagon rides and to the Barnes Museum.”
“They’re so cute and look so silly,” said Kim, a young girl who came to see the goats while dressed in blinking Christmas lights.
At the Barnes Museum, people could listen to Christmas carols sung by the Southington Chamber Singers and make donations to Bread for Life.
Visitors seeking musical entertainment could also head to the town green to hear 27 Southington High School cheerleaders doing their own caroling.
Heather Allenback, the school’s cheerleading coach, started the tradition 10 years ago and said that her girls also stopped by The Orchards to sing to seniors and Southington Care Center to sing to the sick.
“I think it is important for the youth to share time with the elderly,” said Shelby Doerfler, a senior at the high school. “It is our privilege to sing for them and if that helps bring them some holiday cheer then that’s really special.”
“Doing this every year helps bring the community together,” said Sarah Newhart, another senior cheerleader.
On the main event stage, East Chicago Joe entertained with the classic songs of Frank Sinatra, to which the crowds clapped their hands and swayed.
In Plantsville, families stopped at Faith Living Church to warm themselves around a bonfire while taking turns roasting chestnuts over the crackling flames.
The two communities were connected via the Linear Trail, where families waited to take their turn on a horse-drawn carriage ride.
While sleigh bells jingled all the way, parents and children pointed to and marveled at giant lighted displays including a 5-foot-tall apple, a 6-foot bear and a 7-foot moose.
Christmas trees were lit in Plantsville at 5:30 and the town green at 6:30.
At Southington Comm- unity Cultural Arts, young volunteers helped children create snowman ornaments for their Christmas trees. Lonnie DiNello, a comic artist at the center, also offered face painting for visitors.
“I offer after-school classes,” DiNello said. “Comic book art has gotten pretty popular with all of the superhero movies and with anime. Believe it or not, we have more girls than boys, too.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.