SOUTH KINGSTOWN – To help make the holiday season merry and bright, the South Kingstown Parks and Recreation Department will be hosting a number of celebrations over the course of December–as well as some opportunities to give back to the community.
The Tree Lighting On the Village Green, an annual celebration that’s been happening for decades, according to Director of Leisure Services Terry Murphy, is open for the entire community to enjoy.
“It’s a very fun, classic tradition that we invite the entire town to come out and enjoy,” she said. “These are traditional events we’ve been running for decades.”
The tree lighting celebration will take place on Sunday, Dec. 8, with lots of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Starting at 5 p.m., there will be crafts for children, popcorn and a story walk. Throughout the evening, before Santa arrives to light the tree at 6:15 p.m., according to Murphy, there will also be musical performances from the Peace Dale Congregational Church with Christmas carols, and the Peace Dale School Children’s Choir. The Wakefield Band will also perform a small concert right before Santa Claus takes center stage.
For those who wish to become even more involved in the night’s festivities, families, friends or even co-workers can purchase a small tree for $35 that they can decorate and have lit through the rest of the month. The recreation department helps set up the lights and even puts up a sign. Community members can sign up for the Holiday Mini Tree Sponsorship through the Guild, the Recreation Center or online.
Before the tree lighting, the Neighborhood Guild will also be opening its doors for the Pottery Studio Open House at 4:30 p.m. Held in the lower level pottery studio, the event “is a great time to do a little holiday shopping and visit with students and instructors from our pottery project,” Murphy said. The event will feature music, refreshments, pottery activities, decoration and clay ornaments.
Other festive celebrations happening later that month include a Polar Express Pajama Party on Dec. 13 at 6:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to wear their comfiest pajamas and even bring along a pillow and blanket, to watch the “Polar Express” on the big screen. The event is open to children ages 5 to 10 accompanied by an adult. As a gift to the community, the event is free and there will be no need to register.
This year, though, in addition to the many festivities being held, South Kingstown Parks and Recreation will also be partnering up with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 916 to help make the holiday season brighter for local senior veterans.
The Mitten Tree Program, which began Nov. 15 and will run through Dec. 20, encourages community members who are able to give, to donate items to the Guild or VFW Post 916. The tree, donned with paper mittens, makes requests for items such as card games, large print activity books, candy, scarves, socks, throw blankets and gift wrapping materials.
Drop off bins will be located at both locations up until the last Friday before Christmas.
“We are really excited to be working with the town and providing more ways to give back to our local veterans,” VFW Post Commander Joe “Tiger” Patrick said. “By letting more people know, community members are able to give back to our vets, even if it’s just in small ways.”
South Kingstown is a patriotic town, he said, and the community helped them crush their donation goals. This year, local donations will likely be helping roughly 120 veterans across several local nursing homes, Patrick said. Any excess donations the town and post might receive will all be donated back to the same place as last year –the Providence VA Medical Center.
Last year, 48 veterans were staying in the hospital over Christmas, according to Patrick. Thanks to overwhelming generosity from community members in South Kingstown and around the Ocean State, they were able to gift items to each of the veterans.
The Neighborhood Guild will also be collecting letters to Santa this holiday season to be delivered to the North Pole. Up until Dec. 6, a special mailbox will be set up inside the Guild. Children can drop off their letters addressed to North Pole Delivery, 325 Columbia St., Wakefield, RI 02879.
Some events have already been fully booked for next month, according to Murphy, like the visits with Santa program. The Parks and Recreation Department is not taking any more reservations at this time.
There will also be two full busloads of community members riding up to New York City on Dec. 7, Murphy added. This annual “pilgrimage” to see the city “all decked out for the holidays” is also full.