Snowman contest is a popular part of Holiday Fest

By Brenda Sullivan - ReminderNews
East Hartford - posted Wed., Dec. 11, 2013
Hundreds of children took part in a snowman-building contest sponsored by the North Side Residents and Merchants Association at the 28th annual East Hartford Holiday Fest on Dec. 8. Volunteers from the high school and middle school created shapes from snow trucked to the green from the South Windsor skating rink. Children put the heads and bodies together and then decorated them with props provided by NORMA. Photo submitted by Jim Uhrig. - Contributed Photo

The hot cocoa ran out about an hour into the activities of East Hartford's annual Holiday Fest on Sunday, Dec. 8, much to the surprise – and delight – of the event’s organizers.

While 135 families had registered for a visit with Santa at the event, and organizers thought they had their bases covered by ordering cocoa for 200, supplies ran out after 286 were served.

In fact, by the end of the day, more than 800 local residents converged on the community center and the green for an afternoon full of free fun, including horse-drawn wagon rides, a holiday sing-along with T-Bone, chatting with Santa (and a stuffed toy for each child, donated by the Parks and Recreation Department), and a snowman-building contest with snow trucked in from the South Windsor skating rink.

The Holiday Fest is sponsored by the Beautification Commission, the Parks and Recreation Department, the East Hartford Exchange Club and the North Side Residents and Merchants Association (NORMA), a group formed in 1999 to promote a sense of community and quality of life in its neighborhoods.

The holiday festival was a multi-day event that included dozens of activities hosted by local churches and organizations, such as a pancake breakfast, a "Santa Swim" (participants had their photo taken with Santa underwater in the high school pool, in exchange for an unwrapped new toy), concerts, dancing, a live nativity, a cookie walk, holiday karaoke, a community tree-lighting ceremony and on Sunday, a petting zoo – with pygmy goats, llamas and sheep - a tree raffle, writing letters to Santa and much more.

The snowman contest was a big hit, said Holly Reed, a director of the North Side Resident and Merchants Association.

Students from the high school and middle school helped with the contest by packing the imported snow into shapes for snowman bodies and heads so that youngsters could focus on decorating their creations. NORMA contributed plenty of props for that purpose, from corks for eyes and noses to hats and boas for fashion flair.

The children were especially excited to see the huge hill of snow on the green. "They were drawn to it like a magnet," Reed said, and couldn’t wait to get started with their snowmen.

Seeing the size of the crowd on Sunday really got her into the holiday mood, Reed added. "It just swelled. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many adorable little kids … and I was surprised at how many people said this was their first time at this event," she said.

Awards were given in a variety of categories in the snowman contest, but NORMA also made sure that every child went home with a prize.

Children also received jingle bells to accompany the T-Bone concert and sing-along, donated by Parks and Recreation, said Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Jim Uhrig. "The response was excellent… everyone seemed to enjoy themselves," he said.

Reed encouraged residents who didn’t make it to this year’s event to join in next winter. "Even if you don’t have kids at home or grandkids, you should come. You’ll get caught up in it, you can’t help but get into the spirit," she said.

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