Looking back at some of the area's highlights from 2013

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Fri., Dec. 27, 2013
The Corey family and friends came from California, New York and Connecticut for Putnam's Great Pumpkin Festival. File photos.
The Corey family and friends came from California, New York and Connecticut for Putnam's Great Pumpkin Festival. File photos.

Eastford Elementary School became a Civil War showcase when Historic New England brought its “Rally Round the Flag” education program to students in grades three through eight. The program gave students a glimpse into what life was like during the Civil War. Five stations were set up on the playing fields behind the school. Students learned about the life of a soldier, how the signal corps helped win the war for the north, how battlefield injuries were treated, how troops moved across land and water, and what games children played during the 1860s.

The 14th Annual Clipper Invitational was a showcase for six area high school marching bands in October. The musical athletes performed in front of USBands judges. They received scores in overall effect, ensemble music, on-field music, individual music and visual performance. Onlookers were treated to a competition that brought musical artistry and drill precision together in carefully choreographed routines. 

The Destiny Africa Children’s Choir came to Hyde Cultural Center on Nov. 5. Sponsored by the Woodstock Educational Foundation and the Woodstock PTO, the 18-member ensemble charmed a nearly full house with their songs and energetic dance moves. With a complement of drums, guitars, and vocalists, the youngsters sang and danced their hearts out. 

Students from the Woodstock Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade chorus joined the DA Choir for the opening song. With more than 80 children on stage, they sang “Banuwa,” a Liberian folk song.

In many Connecticut towns, small groups of volunteers work to conserve the gravestones that mark the final resting place for so many. Because many cemeteries date back to Colonial times, the stones in their care often need restoration work. Enter Ruth Shapleigh-Brown, Jonathan Appell and Ted Kinnari, experts in preservation and conservation of monuments, gravestones and historic buildings. They came to Woodstock at the invitation of five Woodstock historical societies, commissions and associations. During two day-long sessions, they offered hands-on workshops to cemetery care volunteers from the three-state region.

The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut and the Eastern Regional Tourism District brought a tourism marketing boot camp to Quinebaug Valley Community College. Experts from the state’s office on tourism shared marketing tips and opportunities with business owners in the quiet corner.

The Arc Emporium in Putnam celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2013. The thrift store offers jobs and paychecks to 13 Arc employees. All sales proceeds go back into Arc programs serving individuals with intellectual disabilities. The store has become a fixture on Main Street, and in the hearts of its residents.

Putnam voters rejected a bid to purchase waterfront property for the site of a new library. The Library Exploratory Committee had argued for the purchase, saying the land offered the best opportunity for new construction plans. Committee members will now go back to the drawing board to consider alternate options.

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