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Warm spirits raise cold temperatures at 'Deck the Village'

Triaunna Dyer, 3, takes a first bite of the cookie she decorated at “Santa’s Sweet Shop” during Belmont’s Deck the Village event Sunday. Meghan Siegler. (click for larger version)
December 08, 2010
BELMONT — From the Corner Meeting House to the mill, Belmont Village was alive with holiday spirit Sunday afternoon as families traipsed from Santa's Sweet Shop to Santa's Workshop to the decked-out bandstand for goodies, crafts and a visit with Santa.

The third annual Deck the Village brought a dose of the holidays to the heart of Belmont, where volunteers from throughout the town spent the afternoon rigging up lights, assisting children with winter-themed crafts, and organizing photo ops with Santa.

Event organizer Linda Frawley said Deck the Village was bigger and better than ever this year, with the addition of Santa arriving for photos, cookie decorating, and participation from Belmont's schools.

"The (other) new thing this year is being spread out all over the village," Frawley said.

Inside the Senior Center in the Belmont Mill, known for the day as Santa's Workshop, Recreation Director Janet Breton served hot cocoa while kids worked on a variety of crafts, from reindeer antlers to pinecone-and-peanut-butter bird feeders.

The library hosted story time with local author Suzy Campbell, who read her two children's books, "My Daddy is a Soldier" and "Pennies for Christmas." Families were also invited to decorate cards for soldiers serving overseas.

"It's been a nice steady flow (of people)," Library Trustee Danielle Rupp said.

Rupp said a fellow library trustee's husband was just deployed and came up with the idea of making the cards to send overseas. Most of the kids who made cards were happy to leave them, she said.

"We've only had one or two who have opted to take the cards with them," Rupp said.

Though she spent most of her time helping out at the library, Rupp also brought her four children and her husband to Deck the Village. It was their first time at the event, and Rupp said everyone was having a great time.

"I didn't realize there was so much going on," she said.

Outside the library, several other volunteers were hanging Christmas lights and other festive decorations. Town accountant Brenda Paquette had been outside in the chilly weather for several hours and was having trouble getting one last strand of lights to work.

"This is the biggest chore," Paquette said, "but somebody's got to do it."

She said seeing the library lit up at night makes the work worthwhile.

Up at the Corner Meeting House, Santa's Sweet Shop took over the downstairs. One table was filled with ready-to-eat cookies, while most tables held platters of plain sugar or gingerbread cookies ready to be decorated with frosting and sprinkles.

"I made a gingerbread cookie for Santa Claus," 6-year-old Brooklyn Erlick said – though her mother Stacey doubted whether the cookie would make it all the way over to Santa.

Three-year-old Triaunna Dyer devoured her cookie as soon as she finished decorating it. She and her sister Kaleena, 6, were hungry after a busy afternoon making crafts.

"It's nice to come out and have them do something, and have it be free," the girls' mother, Shannon Dyer, said.

For much of the afternoon, Santa sat in front of the bandstand for photos. Frawley said the chair he sat on was from the historic Province Road Meeting House, on loan from the Belmont Historical Society.

Outside in front of the mill, people were invited to leave gifts in front of the Giving Tree for Toys for Tots or non-perishable foods for St. Joseph's Church Food Pantry. Members of the Belmont Fire Department and the Police Cadets were on hand to accept donations.

The afternoon wound down with a tree lighting. Helping Santa light up the town Christmas tree was Holly Smith, a Belmont High School freshman who drew up a special map of the village to highlight the day's events. Also assisting with the lighting were members of the National Junior Honor Society at Belmont Middle School and the elementary school chorus.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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