Published November 15, 2018
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
NORTH READING —The first ever Light Up Main Street for Christmas event is rapidly taking shape in advance of the festivities planned by the business community for Sunday afternoon, November 18 to kick off the holiday season.
Dozens of business owners have been seen outside this week sprucing up their properties and decking out their windows, split rail fences, sign posts and buildings from stem to stern with strings of matching white lights.
One goal of this initiative has been to add sparkle, bling and uniformity along the town’s main business corridor – literally knitting the business community together with strings of light – in an effort to encourage residents and commuters alike to shop locally.
Transforming the Main Street business corridor from a four-lane thoroughfare used by commuters on their way to other places into a destination to the brick-and-mortar shops, restaurants and service providers who support this community year-round has been met with much enthusiasm from all involved.
Kitty’s Restaurant at 123 Main St. has generously donated the use of its large and centrally located parking lot for the festival, which takes place from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. There will be ample parking available for patrons as well as plenty of room for the business community to set up tables and tents for their attractions. It all culminates with the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Kitty’s landscaped island on the corner of Main and Winter streets.
This island has a perfectly shaped, live Christmas tree to serve as an anchor for the holiday lighting initiative. At dusk, sometime between 4:15 and 4:30 p.m., both Santa and North Reading’s Meredith Casey, the teenage founder of the Mighty Meredith Project, will flip the switch to light the Christmas tree and officially kick off the holiday season.
In the spirit of the Christmas season, the sponsors also wanted the event to benefit a local charity and they have chosen the Mighty Meredith Project (MMP) as the beneficiary. This event will serve as a drop off spot for donations to MMP of gift cards, personal care items and toys that the non-profit will donate to people who are hospitalized and who would benefit from receiving random acts of kindness.
“When I first started this project, I had high hopes that this was going to be a good opportunity to get the business community and people in North Reading and surrounding communities to come together and have a great Christmas,” commented Al Pereira of Advanced Photo. “I never thought that the response would be so good.”
Just for the fun of it many business participants have been putting together short promotional videos about the event. The spots are filmed by Pereira and posted on his Facebook page, North Reading News.
On Sunday, over two dozen businesses — and counting — will transform Kitty’s parking lot into a festive pop up holiday festival. Everything is provided free of charge. There will be a DJ, seasonal music, face painting, popcorn, hot chocolate, a pie-eating contest, an ugly Christmas sweater contest, a mirror photo booth and, of course, a visit from Santa, and a mailbox for children to mail their letters to him, and more, all leading up to the Christmas tree lighting.
Rev. Rachel Fisher, pastor of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, is getting small group of singers involved who “represent both Aldersgate and the Ipswich River Community Chorus to lead people in singing Christmas carols at 4 p.m.,” she said, describing it as a “pickup choir, more fun and enthusiastic than technically excellent!”
Schedule of events
The following times of events are approximate:
• 3 to 3:15 p.m.: Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest
• 3:30 to 3:45 p.m.: Apple Pie Eating Contests with two categories – adults and kids
• 4 p.m.: Choir/caroling sing-a-long led by Pastor Rachel Fisher and members of the Ipswich River Community Chorus
• 4:15 to 4:30 p.m.: once it is dark enough: tree lighting with Santa, assisted by Meredith Casey, founder of the Mighty Meredith Project.
• 4:30 to 5 p.m.: Enjoying the festivities with those gathered.
For additional information about the Light Up Main Street event for Christmas contact Al Pereira at Advanced Photo: 978-664-5272 or go to the group’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/advancedphotonr or North Reading News to view the latest videos.