Newington has one big Saturday once a year at Christmas time, and this Saturday, Dec. 1 is it.
What makes the day special and unique from any other is the fact that several different events will be going on around town, all in celebration of the holiday season.
Santa Claus is expected to begin his afternoon inside the Mortensen Community Center, where he will hear children’s wishes and pose for photographs from 1 to 3 p.m. He’ll be there on the same order of business the Friday night prior, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Newington Parks and Recreation is hosting a Winter Wonderland in the gymnasium during both events. There will be animal amusements, games, a clown, a juggler on stilts and other activities to entertain kids waiting for their turn to sit on Santa’s lap. It’s free to families, who are encouraged to bring a canned food item for the Newington Food Bank.
As the sun sets downtown, Santa will be escorted by Newington Volunteer Fire Department to the center. Newington’s Night of Lights begins at 5 p.m. The road will be closed to vehicle traffic from Market Sq. to Cedar St.
“The downtown will be a spectacular sight to see this year,” Parks and Recreation Superintendent Bill DeMaio said. “Parks staff did a wonderful job decorating the center of town, despite the very rainy and cold weather recently.”
The center green will feature a giant evergreen tree decorated with over 2,500 LED lights. There are expected to be live fires and s-mores for families to enjoy along Main St., sponsored by 7-11. There will also be face painting, balloon animals, Big Daddy’s car racing and a video game trailer donated by Rosenberg Orthodontics. Parks staff built a holiday hay wagon and plan on giving people free rides around Constitution Square.
Chef Kirk Sato will be on-site, carving a life-size Christmas tree ice sculpture from a 1,200 lb. block donated by Spring Brook Ice & Fuel Service of New Britain.
“It will take him about four-and-a-half hours to carve, so people will be able to watch the whole process unfold right before their eyes,” DeMaio said. “If you have never seen an ice sculptor in action, this will be a real treat for you.”
The Church of Christ Congregational will be playing Christmas carols from its bell tower, serving free hot chocolate and will have bathrooms open to the public.
Choirs from Newington High School, Martin Kellogg Middle School and John Wallace Middle School will lead the carol sing. Restaurants in the area are expected to offer dinner and drink specials that night.
Also this Saturday, Newington Police Department is hosting its 14th annual Stuff-a-Cruiser Toy and Gift Drive.
Volunteers are collecting donations for families in need at Walmart, 3164 Berlin Tpke., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The drive goes to benefit Newington Human Services’ annual Holiday Distribution, which serves hundreds of financially-strained residents, including many children and seniors.
People are encouraged to stop by Walmart to drop-off donations Saturday, or pick up a few extra gifts during their visit to the store.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.