On the first Sunday of December, the Town of West Brookfield celebrates the season with the annual White Christmas in West Brookfield. With a lovely main street and common the town does like to show off. It will be a balmy 38 degrees with some sun and no snow. You could do worse this weekend than finding yourself in the town along the Quaboag River.
For program information about this year’s event you can visit the Facebook page.
A town page with a link to what is happening is here.
Below is my column from the December, 2008 Sturbridge Times Magazine about the day.
It’s a White Christmas West Brookfield Style
When you think of White Christmas do you picture the film featuring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye? Do you hear Crosby crooning about “tree tops glistening?” Well, as they say at Apple computer, “Think different,” and do it on Sunday, December 7.
Sixteen years ago, the town of West Brookfield had its first White Christmas, and it happened weeks before Christmas, on December 5.
In August of 1993, Dan and Lynn Wolaver went to the town’s selectmen with a fundraising idea. In October, the committee held its first meeting. In November, they held the annual fund raiser, Adopt a Light, which involved donors paying one dollar per Christmas light. The day came and the lights were lit and the town hall bell rung. And while the celebration started out as a day to light the Christmas tree, and have a community get together, it has grown into White Christmas with the participation of the churches and town businesses.
Eventually, Dan and Lynn moved to New Hampshire and handed the White Christmas reins to Madeline Arn who has kept the event, which has never been cancelled due to weather, on track ever since.
The Wolavers are remembered with great fondness by many West Brookfield residents, and on the ninth year of White Christmas, they received a citizenship award that recognized their special contribution
White Christmas is a town commission, but all committee members are volunteers. Madeline is generous in her gratitude to the rest of the crew. She is careful to note that Barb and Richard Rossman have been serving since the beginning.
If there were central casting for traditional New England towns of the Norman Rockwell variety, West Brookfield would be chosen every time. Arrive after Noon and stroll around the common and taste some of those chestnuts roasting on an open fire. It won’t be Nat King Cole, but townsman Roger Allen. New this year on the common will be a mini bonfire for the comfort of the merrymakers. Hayrides will commence in late afternoon, and while there will be no Santa, “Father Christmas” will be on hand, resplendent in his fur-trimmed burgundy robe.
Anyone strolling up and down Main Street will find that most businesses will be holding Open House. The Fire Station will be serving up their own Fire House Chili and chowder. The Elementary School will offer its own music and the Elves ’R Us sale for kids. At 2:00 p.m. The Merriam Gilbert Library will host Classic Holiday Readings and the Silent Auction. Program books will be available at the various Open Houses.
The churches will all have activities starting at 12:30 p.m. The First Congregational will open their Country Store with a silent auction and Luncheon. Carols and Cocoa will be from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Sacred Heart of Jesus will have a Craft Fair and refreshments in Father Dugan Hall. George Whitefield Methodist Church will open its sanctuary and serve cider and donuts. You are invited to visit the Children’s Craft Corner there.
If you want to stray from Main Street, you will find the Historical Society at the end of Central Street, in the old train station. They will hold an Open House that will be well worth the stroll since West Brookfield is an old town and does not lack for history. Nearby is the Senior Center and their Open House will feature the music of the Silvertones.
At 5:45 p.m. the 2000 white lights on the town tree will be lit. Surrounding the tree will be a hundred luminaria. While the bell in the town hall rings, participants can join in the carols.
Then it is off to the Great Hall, where the Quaboag Chorus will be led by Erich Von Bleicken. Samantha Gillogly, a local virtuoso and student at Berklee College will also play. Samantha Gillogly is well known in the town for having donated much time and music over the years. “It’s such a special part of my year to participate in the White Christmas concert,” she said. “The West Brookfield community has been like an extended family to me; they have supported my growth as an artist through all the years I have lived here, and this is my way of giving back to them. The White Christmas concert has the feeling of a big family get-together. There is something timeless and comforting about getting together and sharing music in the midst of the cold and dark of winter.”
Father Christmas will be on hand to tell a story, and that is how the sixteenth annual West Brookfield White Christmas will end.