The holidays are once again upon us — and after a lackluster season in 2020, the Christmas spirit will return to Kent County in full force this year with several festive events planned for the weeks ahead.
Once the Thanksgiving dishes have been cleared, community members are invited to ring in the Christmas season at the annual Phenix Square tree lighting.
Held annually on the night of Thanksgiving, the tree lighting has become a beloved local tradition over the some three decades that it’s been taking place.
Hosted by the Phenix Square Business Association, the event will kick off Thursday at 6 p.m., an hour ahead of Santa’s scheduled arrival by firetruck. It will feature raffles, face painting, Christmas music, coffee, pastries and chances to win gift certificates to local businesses.
Then on Monday, Arctic Village will come to life during the annual tree lighting event at the gazebo.
Having taken a hiatus last year because of the pandemic, Barbara Clarke Tabak is all the more excited for this year’s festivities.
“I love West Warwick,” said Tabak, who has been organizing the event every year for a decade and a half. “I was born and raised here, and I remember the good old days… this is a way for me to give back to the community.”
Hosted by the Arctic Village Association and Centreville Bank, the event will look a lot like it has in the past, Tabak said, although with a few minor differences made for safety reasons.
The biggest change, Tabak said, is that this year children won’t sit on Santa’s lap. Santa will instead sit in a sleigh, named Wally after the horse that once towed it, while kids visit with him from a short distance away.
A photographer will be on hand to snap photos, which can be picked up from the CVS on Main Street the following day. Gifts donated by Books Are Wings will be distributed.
The event will also feature fresh doughboys, holiday music and fire pits, where people can roast marshmallows and indulge in gooey s’mores. Hot chocolate donated by AJ’s will be served up by volunteers from Boomerangs Roadhouse, and Channel 12’s Tony Petrarca will act as the evening’s emcee.
“What I love most about this particular event is that everything is free,” Tabak said, lauding the numerous community members who have made donations and volunteered their time to help make that possible.
The goal all along has been to host an event that all families can enjoy without stressing about cost.
Hearing stories about how the Arctic tree lighting has become a favorite tradition among local families is what keeps Tabak going, she said.
“That drives me to continue on,” she said. “It’s just so heartwarming to me.”
The event will run from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 29, with music at the gazebo beginning at 6 p.m. and Santa Claus arriving by firetruck at 6:15 p.m.
Across the town line, the Coventry Parks and Recreation Department will host its annual holiday celebration on Friday, Dec. 3.
The event is among the town’s most popular, in past years drawing thousands to the Guy L. Lefebvre Community Center. Last year, it took place virtually and was streamed live on YouTube.
The free event will be fun for all community members, Coventry Town Council President Ann Dickson said Monday.
“Many members of the community are saying we do not have enough activities occurring in our town,” Dickson said. “This is really a nice event — I’ve been to it many times, myself.”
The Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School chorus will sing carols, Top Dogs Food Truck will serve up some eats, and various games will offer further entertainment. And, of course, the tree will be set aglow.
The event will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at 1277 Main St., Coventry.