Horses did their own stroll through the village carrying visitors to the Candlelight Stroll. (Photo by Erin Plummer) (click for larger version)
December 12, 2018Belknap Mountain Road was closed off for traffic and allowed in visitors, carolers, horses, and a lot of candles for the return of the Gilford Village Candlelight Stroll.
On Saturday night, visitors had the chance to enjoy music, food and hot drinks, art, bonfires, a visit with Santa, and so many more activities for a few hours during the sixth annual stroll.
The Candlelight Stroll started in 2012 as a way to celebrate the town's bicentennial and continued to 2016. The stroll skipped last year and it looked for a while like it wouldn't continue. Committee member Katherine Dormody said they were ready to stop the stroll after the fifth year.
"Last year, so many people wanted it back, we decided to put it out there," Dormody said. "The first meeting in January, we had like 20 people show up."
Members of the committee said all the new volunteers have really breathed new life into the event.
"Credit should be given to the new volunteers," said committee member Kathy Lacroix.
The streets were lined with 800 candles and 200 memorial candles were put around the wall in front of the Union Meetinghouse. Mike Marshall, the committee's candle coordinator, said 15 Gilford High School students, members of the Interact Club and National Honor Society, gathered at the Library and filled the candles. He said they did a great job.
Marshall said it was a struggle keeping them lit with the cold weather. He had a lighter with him to help relight any candles that went out during the event.
Marshall said he walked up and down the street three or four times and said he said it was busy out there.
"I have been talking to a lot of the villagers, asking if they're ready," Marshall said. "They're very happy to see the stroll back. That makes me so happy."
Dormody said she talked with some people who came from Durham to to the stroll. Marshall said he spoke to people from who came from Wolfeboro
A number of different events and activities were offered in various locations.
All three Thompson-Ames Historical Society buildings were open with different events.
Lacroix said it was really busy in the Benjamin Rowe House and a lot of people were interested in the building. Lacroix said a group of volunteers came into the house right before the stroll started and cleaned and decorated the interior in just two hours.
Thanks to the efforts of the Gilford Rotary, the ell section was finished and was on display during the stroll. The ell wasn't yet ready for people to go through it yet, though Lacroix said hey hope to have it open by next year's Farmer's Market.
At the Gilford Public Library strollers could come into the downstairs function room and warm up with some treats. Dormody said members of the community donated around 20 dozen cookies and brownies. Kids could also do holiday themed crafts and write letters to Santa.
"We've had a lot of really good volunteers this year," said Assistant Director Kayleigh Mahan.
Dormody said the evening kicked off for the library with members of the Gilford Elementary School's fourth grade chorus singing carols. Carolers from the high school also stopped at the library.
"Everybody loves it," said library volunteer Nancy Page. "Everybody's in good spirits, everybody's in the Christmas groove."