Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dateline Woodstock
The holiday season is off to a bang here in Woodstock with every store on Main Street decorated with candles and twinkling lights. Shop windows are aglow with their holiday offerings and there is hardly a place to walk for the throngs of tourists who have made our town a must-see stop on their way through New England. On Friday night, the Woodstock Inn was host to the Medieval Court gala, a 7-course meal punctuated by a live performance from King Arthur and his court. Nearly a foot of snow fell overnight blanketing the town and the hills around with a reminder that real winter weather is not far away and the tourists will be heading over to Killington, the major ski area just 10 miles to our west. All Saturday, stately homes ringing the Village opened their doors to the public for house tours and eggnog tastings. Just before noon, Officer Obie (remember Officer Obie?) set out his traffic cones to prevent people from parking anywhere around The Green. By 1:30pm the sidewalks of Main Street were bursting with tourists and locals flowing out into the road. At the stroke of 2:00, barricades were erected to stop all traffic on Highway 4 as a dazzling array of horse-drawn carriages set out from the Billings Farm for two turns around The Green. Single riders on Morgans, Appaloosas, Percherons, and mixed breeds hollered "Merry Christmas" and tossed candy to the children anxiously lining the curb. These riders were followed by brightly decorated sleighs and wagons and finally the Farm's remarkable Clydesdales driven 4 in hand. As soon as the parade had disappeared back down the Farm Road, throngs of observers moved onto The Green where the town fathers had set up a bonfire not far from the Woodstock Memory Tree. Traditionally, townspeople purchase lights on the Memory Tree to commemorate departed family and friends. The Reverend Goodrow led the group in a brief prayer and then proclaimed the lighting of the Tree. Minutes later the bonfire sprang to life along with rousing choruses of "Joy To The World" and other seasonal favorites. Just about dark, with the bonfire and voices still going strong, the Farm's wagon reappeared, this time filled with nearly 150 glowing luminarias. These were distributed every few feet around The Green to greet people just arriving in time for the 8:00pm performance of Dickens Christmas Carol. As patrons poured out of the doors of the Woodstock Town Theatre just before the bell tower's strike of 11:00, a few luminarias still flickered in the cold night. Greetings from Woodstock. It's Christmas!

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