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Christmas comes early to Belmont Village

After arriving in the village on a Belmont Fire Department truck, Santa joined Belmont High School band director Lauren Fontaine in leading the band as they performed a seasonal medley for the large crowd of residents and visitors at the Deck the Village celebration last Sunday. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
December 07, 2011
BELMONT — The fourth annual Deck the Village event last Sunday was met with clear skies, warm temperatures and a large crowd of folks from around both the town and the region who gathered to see Santa and enjoy a number of events in different venues throughout the village district.

As boys and girls awaited the festivities, they were treated to not just a holiday colored balloon, but one weighted down with candy canes as an added treat. At 12:35 p.m., the bell of the Belmont Mill rang out through the village, signaling it was time to gather by the 103-year-old band stand on the lawn behind the library. Master of Ceremonies Rob Court then kicked off the day by welcoming everyone to the event.

"You've just heard the bell on the Mill tower ring, thanks to Town Historian Wallace Rhodes. That bell used to call people to work, as they crossed over a Tioga River bridge. Now, we ring the Mill bell on major community occasions, remembering its history and importance for Belmont," Court said.

Wearing cheery holiday hats, the Belmont Elementary School Vocal Ensemble, led by director Jen Shaw, then began a sing-a-long of holiday favorites, such as "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," "Jingle Bells" and "Frosty the Snowman." Crowds swelled to nearly 200 people as Santa's arrival drew near, and the chorus finished their performance just in time for the Belmont High School Band to take over the music portion of the day.

Dressed in their traditional red and white uniforms, topped off with Santa hats of their own, the band led the Belmont Fire Department and their special guests down to the Village Green.

"Welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus," greeted Linda Frawley, one of the many "elves" who helped coordinate the day's events. "Could we get you to lead the band?"

Santa gladly consented and headed across the lawn behind the library, where he and BHS music director Lauren Fontaine then conducted the 40 high school musicians in a special holiday medley. From there, he and Mrs. Claus, who made her debut in Belmont this year, took their seats beside the bandstand to hear Christmas wishes and pose for photos with the boys and girls.

Inside the library, children and their parents had fun making holiday cards and listening to Tasha Leroux read holiday classics like "Polar Express."

From there, many walked the half-block to the Corner Meeting House where the Sweet Shop was set up for creative cookie decorating.

"This is yummy," said eight-year-old Emma after sampling her cookie mounded with frosting and other goodies, courtesy of the Belmont Elementary and Middle School's Parent/Teacher Organizations.

The downstairs room of the Meeting House was full of people enjoying not only the cookies but hot chocolate, coffee and other donated goodies.

At the Belmont Mill, the second floor was a bustling holiday workshop where boys and girls made reindeer antlers, jingle bell bracelets and necklaces, photo frames and a multitude of other crafts. Bakers from the Lakes Region Community College and Food for Thought Café further sweetened the celebration with their macaroons and snicker doodles distributed to the Village visitors.

Frawley said the event was a combined effort of many people, including Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin, who oversaw the many logistical details for the day. Frawley also offered her sincere thanks to MetroCast for placing wreathes and stringing the lights on the Town Christmas tree, EFI- VuTek and Paul Ribiero for the special Deck the Village banner, Timothy Hayes Landscaping who helped create the annual event, the Belmont Heritage Commission, Belmont Rotary who helped decorate the bandstand, and many other volunteers and programs who made the day a success.

"It all came together to create a wonderful celebration in our historic Village District and I think it was just an amazing afternoon of community spirit and goodwill," said Frawley.

Klumb Environmenta;
Varney Smith
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