Published in the December 9, 2015 edition

FRESHMEN, from left, Lauren Vaccaro, Barbara Dickey, Jenna Robbins, Emily Dickey, Sophia Milano and Annie Olsen help run Santa’s North Pole Fishing Hole at the Historical Society’s 53rd annual Country Store Dec. 5. Colby Properties sponsored Santa’s North Pole Fishing Hole.  (Dan Tomasello Photo)

FRESHMEN, from left, Lauren Vaccaro, Barbara Dickey, Jenna Robbins, Emily Dickey, Sophia Milano and Annie Olsen help run Santa’s North Pole Fishing Hole at the Historical Society’s 53rd annual Country Store Dec. 5. Colby Properties sponsored Santa’s North Pole Fishing Hole. (Dan Tomasello Photo)


LYNNFIELD — The Town Common came alive with holiday fun and the Christmas spirit, as 500 residents ushered in the holiday season in style during the town’s annual Tree Lighting ceremony Dec. 5.

The holiday festivities began in the morning when the 53rd annual Country Store opened its doors at the Meeting House at 9 a.m. The Lynnfield Historical Society-sponsored event was first held at the former junior high school in 1962 when the Meeting House was being renovated. Proceeds from the Country Store are used to maintain the Meeting House throughout the year.

The Country Store’s sales were down last year due to poor weather conditions, but business was booming this year. The Country Store was sold out of many items by early afternoon due to the unseasonably warm weather that featured temperatures in the mid 50s.

Country Store vendors sold homemade baked goods and an assortment of delicious food including ham and bean dinners, candy, popcorn and the incredibly popular cheese table manned by John Nunziato. Vendors also sold traditional holiday greens such as wreaths and swags, and the Village Home and Garden Club were on hand selling boxwood centerpieces.

The Country Store featured the North Pole Fishing Hole once again, sponsored by Colby Properties. Participants used fishing poles to catch wrapped Christmas gifts. Santa’s 5 and 10 table was once again a big hit. Inspired by five and dime stores from the early 20th Century, Santa’s 5 and 10 allowed youngsters to do their holiday shopping and have their gifts wrapped.

“People were so generous donating to Santa’s 5 and 10,” said Historical Society member Karen Colby.

Additionally, Santa made his first stop in Lynnfield and arrived at the Country Store via fire engine. In addition to asking local children what they want for Christmas, Santa also took a moment to take photos with youngsters in attendance.

Country Store co-Chairman Steven Richard said he was thrilled with the turnout this year.

“It was a fun event as usual,” said Richard. “It was a great day for it with the warm weather, which brought out a lot of people. We had a fantastic crowd and we sold out of almost everything we had, which is always a good sign. I think people had a great time.”

Richard also thanked all of the townspeople who came out to this year’s Country Store.

“I want to thank everyone for coming out to support the Historical Society,” said Richard. “It’s a fun tradition we try to keep alive every year. This is our 53rd year and hopefully we can keep it going for another 50 years.”

Night in Bethlehem

While the Country Store was taking place, a number of townspeople crossed the street to attend Centre Congregational Church’s third annual “A Night in Bethlehem.” The festive event gave residents an opportunity to go back in time to experience the first Christmas Eve.

A Night in Bethlehem included a living Nativity Scene. Jill and Mike DiGiorgio starred as Mary and Joseph as well as Baby Jesus. Shepherds Reverend Dennis Bailey, Ken Kramer and youngster Elizabeth Miller corralled a flock of sheep named Elizabeth, Sarah and Zechariah. Gage Whittier served as a Roman soldier protecting a fire pit.

Additionally, Linda Ladd and Madeline Law served as census takers as ordered by Roman Emperor Julius Caesar and Philip Fisher served as an innkeeper. David Drislane and David Bjorkman served as the event’s Wise Men.

Residents also had the opportunity to experience first hand the marketplace of Bethlehem. The marketplace featured a bakery, carpentry shop, jewelry shop, leather shop, scribe shop and a weaving demonstration.

There was also a photo area where residents were able to have a picture taken in costume in front of a scenic Bethlehem backdrop.

Bailey thanked townspeople for attending the third annual A Night in Bethlehem.

“A Night in Bethlehem for us is an opportunity to go back in time to remember the days when Jesus was born,” said Bailey. “We want people to be in touch with what it was really like. It’s an opportunity for people to remember what Christmas is all about.”

Gingerbread House Contest

Over the course of the day, townspeople also headed to Centre Congregational Church to see the entries in the 11th annual Gingerbread House Contest, sponsored by Lynnfield Recreation and the Girl Scouts.

There were several new categories created this year. The winners in this year’s contest are as follows:

Most Original Theme: Troop 79181.

Most Creative: Samantha Bunar.

Favorite Story Book/Movie: Anna Kaminski and Ava O’Brien.

Best Replica of a Notable Building: Troop 76214.

Best Holiday Spirit: Troop 62047.

Best Group: Troop 78176.

Best Teen: Grace Mealy and Cathy.

Best Youth: Hannah Doyle.

Best Child: Luke and Nate McQueen.

Totally Cool: Troop 62791.

Pet Friendly: Elisa Vlandasi.

Most Creative Use of Materials: Troop 75374.

Most Authentic: Mason and Guiliana Fusco.

Best Sports Theme: Andrew Lombardi.

Best Family: The Norden Family.

Most Town Pride: Troop 78179.

Best Gummy Bear Village: Shane McQueen.

Best Summer Scene: Julia Seelig and Kaleigh Weeks.

Best Christmas Scene: Payton Munion and Megan Carpi.

Most Chill: The Murphy Family.

Viewers’ Choice: Marta Quijano-Norden.

Tree Lighting

The Tree Lighting ceremony on the Town Common began at 3 p.m. when refreshments were served by local Girl Scouts and Santa made his second trip to town from the North Pole.

A massive number of local kids and their parents lined up to tell Santa what they want for Christmas. Additionally, Santa was checking his list to see who has been naughty or nice. In addition to parents taking pictures of their children, photographer Bob Priestley was taking pictures and printing them out for parents to take home.

Santa had the privilege of sitting on a new stage this year that was made possible by Kevin Julian. Julian also built a brand new sleigh for the set.

Lynnfield High School’s Tri-M Music Honor Society and local Girl Scouts kicked off the community singing segment that featured traditional holiday carols at 4:15 p.m. The songs performed this year were “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let it Snow,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “I Have a Little Dreidel,” “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “O Chanukah, O Chanukah” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Selectman Chris Barrett thanked townspeople for attending the Tree Lighting ceremony. He also thanked the Recreation Commission and Recreation Director Julie Mallett for organizing the event.

Barrett also thanked Julian for creating a stage “worthy for Saint Nicholas” and Priestley for taking pictures of local children. He personally thanked the Department of Public Works for “helping bring Christmas magic to our historic Town Common.”

“As always, our children are the center of our celebration,” said Barrett. “It’s a reminder that once again, the greatest gift this Christmas and holiday season, or any season, are our children. And for that, I thank you for this wonderful ceremony.”

In the recent aftermath of terrorist attacks and mass shootings, Barrett brought a message of peace to the Tree Lighting ceremony.

“In the challenging world we live in today, an event like this reminds us all that faith, hope and charity always remain,” said Barrett. “We have much to be thankful for this Christmas and Hanukkah season. No matter what goes on in the world today, let us never forget the trees we light tonight are symbolic to the birth of the prince of peace.”

Barrett added: “This Christmas and every Christmas, there is a time for joy, a time for love and a time for making memories that last a lifetime. In Lynnfield, an event like this reminds all of us that our greatest blessing is coming together as a town to build memories and celebrate together what we are all thankful for this holiday season. May you all have a blessed Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah.”

Mallett thanked the 500 residents who came out for the town’s annual Tree Lighting ceremony.

“The Tree Lighting ceremony was a huge success,” said Mallett. “I want to thank everyone for coming out to help us kick off the holiday season. I want to extend a big thank you to everyone who helped make this event a huge success, especially Kevin Julian with our new set design. I hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday season!”

Recreation Commission Chairman Matt Monkiewicz echoed Mallett’s sentiment.

“I thought it was a terrific success,” said Monkiewicz. “We had some excellent volunteers this year to put together the best stage I have seen since I have been in town. The weather certainly helped and the crowd was fantastic. We had a lot of young families and kids, which is what it is all about. It was a terrific event.”