Ellington Winterfest set to dazzle for 10th year

By Jessica Ciparelli - ReminderNews
Ellington - posted Tue., Nov. 26, 2013
Sisters Avery, 6, and Brooke, 4, enjoy the lighted Rudolph sculpture at last year's Ellington Winterfest celebration. Photos by Steve Smith.
Sisters Avery, 6, and Brooke, 4, enjoy the lighted Rudolph sculpture at last year's Ellington Winterfest celebration. Photos by Steve Smith.

It started with a question. From that question, a family tradition grew into what's been known as Ellington's “Winterfest,” an intergenerational, family-friendly event, for the past 10 years.

Winterfest Committee chairwoman Ellen Karadimas, who lived just off the picturesque town green, wondered why there wasn't an event to ring in the winter holiday season. “Ellington is so beautiful – it's quintessential New England,” she said.

Her quest brought her to then-Public Works Director Peter Michaud. She asked who was responsible for turning on the lighted tree on the town green. “The last person out the door [before Thanksgiving] flicks the switch,” Karadimas recalls being told.

Working with then-First Selectman Dennis Milanovich, who was instrumental in getting Winterfest off the ground, Karadimas admitted she was worried no one would come to the first event.

“Don't worry – they show up right on the dot,” Karadimas recalls Milanovich saying. “And every year the crowd has gotten bigger.”

“It's delightful to see the children, parents and grandparents attending,” said committee member Patricia Stoughton. “It's a fabulous time.”

The dedicated committee that puts on Winterfest, scheduled for Dec. 7, is made up of mostly the same people for the past decade. The committee includes Karadimas, Patricia and Jim Stoughton, Denise Archibald, Jack Hagopian, Susan Philips (Hall Memorial Library), Sharon McLaughlin (Ellington Congregational Church), Dorothy Shackway (Ellington Women's Club), Rita Carbone-Lawson, Paul Scordato, David Milnes and Jack Rich of the Ellington Volunteer Fire Department, which puts on the torchlight parade.

The torchlight parade begins at 5:15 p.m.  EVFD Captain Jack Rich estimates 10 to 12 fire departments will take part, including Ellington, Crystal Lake, South Windsor, Vernon, Tolland and Broad Brook. Town groups/organizations that are interested in taking part in the parade can call EVFD at 860-870-3190 and leave a message.

A variety of events are taking place during Winterfest, starting with a carol-sing at Hall Memorial Library on Friday at 7 p.m. Saturday morning, the library is holding an ornament workshop, and festivities begin on the green at 3:45 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at 4:15 p.m. and the tree-lighting takes place at 4:30 p.m. The Nellie McKnight Museum is open from 2 to 7 p.m. and the Ellington Women's Club will offer refreshments at the Senior Center from 4 to 7 p.m.  From 4 to 6:30 p.m., Winterfest Cafe at Ellington Congregational Church will offer a la carte dining. From 6:30 to 8 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will host a Live Nativity. Saturday night, at 8 p.m., Ellington High School's Opening Knight Players will perform a radio broadcast of “It's a Wonderful Life” at EHS.

“Hopefully when the kids grow up, it's something they'll remember,” said First Selectman Maurice Blanchette. “This is how you build memories. This is what makes towns hometowns.”

There is no snowdate or raindate. In case of inclement weather, call the library at 860-870-3160 on Dec. 7. A full event schedule can be found at www.ellington-ct.gov.

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