By SHERIDAN CYR
The lights are already being strung in downtown Southington and Plantsville, and preparations are already underway on the streets and rail trail. For the second year, businesses in downtown Plantsville and Southington are gearing up for White Christmas in the Community, the free family holiday event on Friday, Dec. 1 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The two town centers will be connected by hay rides along the rail trail, and a holiday-themed trolley car will travel the roads, back and forth between the two celebrations with live entertainment. Businesses in both downtown centers will be celebrating the season with tons of activities, including a bonfire, face painting, balloon animals, letter-writing to Santa, make-your-own ornaments, toy donation collection sites, petting zoos, and more.
Children will be able to meet Santa at both venues.
Two lucky contest winners will be chosen earlier in the week to light the trees in each of the downtown centers. The winners will “flip the switch” in Plantsville at 5:30 p.m., and on the Southington Town Green at 6:30 p.m. The staggered start was added to allow visitors to enjoy both lighting ceremonies.
“This joint effort is not only great for families but also for marketing the businesses and shops in the two downtown areas,” said Joanne Alfieri, one of the organizers on the Plantsville end. She explained that Plantsville had been running its own individual holiday celebration for almost 30 years, all-the-while trying to connect to downtown Southington’s celebration.
Last year the two finally were able to come together, largely with the help of the linear trail that physically connects the two town centers. Alfieri reported around 3,000 people at last year’s White Christmas in the Community event. She expects that number to grow to 5,000 this year. “The combining of the two areas is just an added benefit to the overall event,” said Alfieri.
On the Southington end, one of the organizers Dawn Miceli called the event “the quintessential New England Christmas event.”
The event is made possible with the help of a number of sponsors along with donations raised. Miceli said, “The goal is to provide a fun night for families and to showcase our communities together.”
The name “White Christmas” is derived from the overall white-light theme, Miceli explained. Organizers have asked business owners and residents along the connecting communities to show support for the event by putting up strings of white lights.
New since last year, the Linear Trail will be fully lit with white light strings and a number of lighted displays. A number of businesses were provided with lights that the organizers were able to purchase at significant discounts after last year’s holiday season.
Center Street and West Main Street will close around 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 to prepare for the event. Ample parking in municipal lots will be open to visitors.
For more information and to follow along with developments, find the event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WhiteChristmasintheCommunity.