With the holiday season in full swing, there was no shortage of events for residents and visitors to enjoy over the past weeks. Among the multitude of festive gatherings were the Pawling Library’s Winter Celebrations, the annual Menorah Lighting, the Decemberfest Christmas Tree Lighting, the first annual Champagne Stroll, and the Pawling Shakespeare Club’s Yuletide Celebration.
On Sunday, December 2, the Pawling Library held its Winter Celebrations gathering at the Holmes Whaley Lake Civic Association in Holmes. The evening celebrated the holidays of several different cultures, including Diwali, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, and Christmas. Visitors mingled and were given an opportunity to learn more about the annual observances of different ethnic groups, and were also allowed to choose from an array of culinary dishes from different cultures. Prior to the event, guests were also able to walk over for the lighting of the Holmes Christmas Tree and sing carols.
On Wednesday, December 5, members of the area Jewish community gathered on Charles Colman Boulevard to light the nine-foot Menorah to help celebrate the Chanukah season. Led by Rabbi Zalman Sandhaus from the Fishkill-based Pardess Center for Jewish Life, the crowd assisted in lighting the Menorah, and later enjoyed latkes and doughnuts. “The message of Chanukah is the message of light; the nature of light is that it is always victorious over darkness,” explains Rabbi Sandhaus. “A small amount of light dispels a lot of darkness. Another act of goodness and kindness, another act of light, can make all the difference. We thank the town and village of Pawling for their commitment to preserve and encourage the right and liberty of all its citizens to worship G‑d freely, openly, and with pride.”
On Friday, December 7, the community gathered outside of the Chamber of Commerce Building for the annual Decemberfest Christmas Tree Lighting. A favorite tradition in Pawling, the event included several new additions this year. Runners participated in the “Santa Shuffle,” which saw a brisk run from Lakeside Park to a finish line beside the Village Christmas Tree. Also new this year was the presence of a wagon pulled by a team of Belgian Draft Horses courtesy of the Blumberg Family, owners of Rock Hill Farm. The wagon transported peer leaders for Pawling High School from Lakeside Park, and later offered visitors rides through the village.
The evening featured music from the Pawling High School Band and Choral Group, as well as nourishment in the form of free hot soups served by volunteers from The Grand, hot dogs courtesy of the Pawling Bible Club, hot chocolate served by volunteers from Trinity-Pawling, and cookies courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce. Gifts for children from Santa were generously provided by Diana Tomassetti. Prior to Santa’s arrival on a Pawling Fire Department truck, visitors heard from Chamber President Peter Cris, Dutchess County Sheriff Butch Anderson, Town Supervisor James Schmitt, and Pastor John Palatucci of St. John’s Church. The evening would also serve to honor Sheriff Anderson with a plaque adorning the outside of the Chamber Building. “This is great, seeing everyone come together,” said Supervisor Schmitt as he addressed the crowd. “This is what the holiday season is all about, having a great time and enjoying our community.”
To make such an event possible required a true community effort. Organizers also recognized officials from the Pawling Central School District, the Pawling Fire Department, the Chamber Executive Board, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Department, the Town and Village Boards, Pawling Recreation Department, Reid McGrath, County Legislator John Thomes, Lou Musella, Chamber Volunters, Pawling Resource Center, Pawling Library, Pawling Historical Society, PCSB Bank, Pawling Rotary Club, Castagna Realty Company, Ingersoll Auto of Pawling, Daniels, Porco, & Lusardi, and Diana Tomassetti.
The following evening, the Pawling Merchants Committee held their first ever Champagne Stroll in the Village. Shoppers were given a champagne flute and walked through the village, where a number of participating stores offered free champagne and promotional bargains. The participating businesses included Celestial Touch Reiki and Readings, Jane Haslam Photography, Angel Aura Spiritual Boutique, Family Quick Stop, Good Tidings Gift Shop, McKinney & Doyle Fine Foods, Annex Florist, The Blue Olive, The Yarn and Craft Box, The Book Cove, North Winds Lavender Farm, Pawling Bread Co., Aneu, Vinny’s Deli, The Imperial Castle Toy Shop, and Meghan Avenue Salon.
Finally, the Pawling Shakespeare Club held their annual Yuletide Celebration on Monday, December 10. Hosted in “the barn” at the home of Marie and Tino Di Lorenzo on Quaker Hill, the annual gathering features food followed by a number of skits and musical numbers from Club members and guests. This year’s program included a reading of Charles Dickens’s “Christmas Dinner with the Cratchits” by Susan Stone, a reading of “Lucinda Snowdrop” by local author Marian Grudko, and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas,” performed by Rita Schaffer and Maryann Simmons, with Richard Hoffman accompanying on piano. “It’s all of us uniting together that gives us this special feeling that we get here each year,” said Marie Di Lorenzo.