The Hippo


Sep 16, 2019








Amherst Tree Lighting Festival

When: Friday, Dec. 9, through Sunday, Dec. 11
Where: Various locations across Amherst
Cost: Admission is free to most activities, but some may require a small fee
Schedule of events
• Tree Lighting ceremony: Friday, Dec. 9, 6 to 6:30 p.m.
• Amherst Lions Club spaghetti supper: Friday, Dec. 9, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
• Breakfast with Santa: Saturday, Dec. 10, 9 to 11 a.m.
• Gingerbread house workshops: Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
• Girl Scouts craft and bake sale: Saturday, Dec. 10, 2 to 5 p.m.
• Pictures with Santa: Saturday, Dec. 10, 3 to 5 p.m.
• Parents Night Off at The Dance Company’s studio: Saturday, Dec. 10, 5 to 8 p.m.
• Pancake breakfast with Mrs. Claus: Sunday, Dec. 11, 8 to 11 a.m.
• Wreath decorating workshop: Sunday, Dec. 11, 11 a.m.
• LaBelle Winery’s wine cellar open house: Sunday, Dec. 11, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Live music at the Congregational Church of Amherst: Sunday, Dec. 11, 1 and 3 p.m.
Souhegan Valley Chorus “Sounds of the Season” concert: Sunday, Dec. 11, 6 p.m.

Festive fun for everyone
Amherst Tree Lighting Festival returns

By Matt Ingersoll

 Community-oriented holiday fun is the theme at the 52nd annual Amherst Tree Lighting Festival, where dozens of local groups will provide festivities for a weekend of food, live music, crafts, family activities and, of course, to kick it all off, the tree lighting ceremony.

This year’s festival will be held Friday, Dec. 9, through Sunday, Dec. 11, starting with the tree lighting and continuing throughout the weekend with events like a breakfast and photo opportunities with Santa Claus, gingerbread house workshops and craft and bake sales.
“It’s a nice community event in the sense that you can see all of the different local groups that have activities going on, and people can pick and choose which ones they would like to attend,” said Michelle Arbogast, organizer of the tree lighting ceremony that kicks off the festival.
Arbogast said this year’s lighting will feature a new tree and the ceremony will include live music from local community members. Kim Whitehead of the Souhegan Valley Chorus will serve as the ceremony’s emcee.
“We’ll have Souhegan High School a capella singers do songs, and the local Cub Scout packs will sing ‘Jingle Bells,’” Arbogast said, “and we’ll have readings about Hanukkah as well.”
The Amherst Garden Club will also be presenting its Memory Tree during the ceremony, which is a fundraising activity that began in 1995. Participants pay the club a small fee to display the name of a loved one they have lost to display on the tree. The funds raised benefit the club’s general fund.
When the tree is ready to be lit, Santa Claus will lead the countdown, with the help from the Amherst police and fire departments to turn on the lights.
But the fun only begins there, Arbogast said, because several smaller events during the festival will be held across various locations in Amherst.
Immediately following the tree lighting ceremony will be a spaghetti supper at the Congregational Church of Amherst, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., hosted by the Amherst Lions Club. Donations will be accepted but no reservations are necessary.
Kicking off at the church on Saturday will be a breakfast with Santa from 9 to 11 a.m. Tickets can be purchased on the church’s website for $7 per person and free for children ages 12 months and under.
The Amherst Town Library will be holding two gingerbread house workshops at 10 a.m. and at 1 p.m. using graham crackers. Bring your own bag of candy to a potluck supply as the library provides all the rest of the fixings.
The Amherst Fire Station will host events of its own later in the day on Saturday. Join the Girl Scouts of Amherst and Mont Vernon for a craft and bake sale from 2 to 5 p.m., and take your picture with Santa Claus as he arrives at the station by fire truck at 3 p.m. Antique fire truck rides are also being planned at the station, weather permitting.
The Dance Company dance team will host a “parents night off” event at its Amherst Studio from 5 to 8 p.m. This event will include fun games, a screening of The Polar Express, popcorn, hot cocoa and more. The cost is $25 per person and an additional $20 per sibling.
Mrs. Claus will join the Amherst Fire Department for a pancake breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. on Sunday. Other activities happening Sunday include a wreath decorating workshop at the Amherst Garden Center at 11 a.m., and a wine cellar open house at LaBelle Winery from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Warm up at the Congregational Church of Amherst as the Amherst Town Band will play free live music beginning at 1 p.m., followed by the church choir at 3 p.m. The Souhegan Valley Chorus will also hold its Sounds of the Season concert at 6 p.m. at the high school to wrap up the evening and the festival. 

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