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January 2021 Newfound Lake Life Page 7 Community
 Local Volunteerism Prevented the Grinch from
Stealing Christmas in 2020
  By dOnna rhOdes
BRISTOL – The Town
of Bristol has much to be proud of, but perhaps its
best commodity is the vol- unteers who, especially in
a year when everyone has
had to think outside the box, still brought commu-
nity spirit and pride to the Newfound Region over the holidays. Two events that, in
the midst of a global pandemic, still managed to bring joy to the community, were the Christmas tree lighting and the annual San- ta’s Village.
In late November the first volunteers rolled up their sleeves and began decorating Central Square. Town highway crews hung wreaths and lights on the lamp posts; the fire department brought their equipment to raise this year’s town Christmas tree. Businesses also pitched in
with lights and decorations in their windows to welcome in the holiday season.
From there both
the Bristol Decorating Committee and Events Committee joined forces
to take over planning and preparations for the Nov. 27th tree lighting celebration.
Since 2001 Bristol resident Steve Favorite has decorated the town tree, but due to medical reasons, he had to step aside this year. Volunteering to pitch in his stead was Joanne Burwell who oversaw the committee’s work on the 2020 Christmas tree.
“I heard they needed someone to organize the decorations this year and it sounded like fun so I volunteered,” said Burwell.
On the day after Thanksgiving, residents and visitors gathered on the square to welcome in the holidays and see the fruits of their labors.
Besides the tree there was Santa’s special North Pole mailbox, an antique sleigh, and Christmas characters, including the Grinch, which roamed the square greeting children as they arrived. And while the Events Committee typically holds a
At the annual Bristol Tree lighting celebration on Nov. 27th, Tapply- Thompson Community Center’s Program Director Gina Richford and Ousel the Elf overpowered the Grinchastheholiday season officially got underway in Central Square.
On Nov. 27th, Joanne Burwell was happy to see Bristol’s Christmas tree lit by Santa after the many hours she and other volunteers from the Downtown Decorating Committee,
along with the Bristol Events Committee, spent preparing for the annual holiday celebration.
Grinch and all the brightly lit trees and decorations. Boys and girls could also drop off their letters with one of his elves, receive one of this year’s commemorative or- naments and just soak in the
joy of the holidays.
TTCC Executive Director
Leslie Dion said that over 500 children attended this year’s out- door Santa’s Village, with Sat- urday being the most popular night.
“It was a great, great night on Saturday; no less than a Satur- day we would typically see when we’ve had everything in the building,” said Dion.
Making it such a success were more than a dozen volunteers who worked, rain or shine, over two weekends to put it all to- gether. Besides committee mem- bers, Bristol Rotary provided the village with Christmas trees while Bristol’s fire and police depart- ments assisted with decorative lighting and safety. From 10-year- old volunteer Teagan Alpers to senior citizens, they all pitched in to make sure the Grinch didn’t steal Christmas in 2020.
“This is exactly how a small town works together to make a bad situation fun for our kids,” said Dion.
Ava, Rylan and Ryder were excited to drop their letters to Santa in his official North Pole mailbox on Central Square last month.
brightly lit Bristol fire truck.
“Hope you’re all doing good. Wear a mask and social distance! I’ve got all your letters and
I’m going to take them home and read them now. Merry Christmas!” he shouted
from his perch.
For those who hadn’t slipped
their letters to Santa in the spe- cial mailbox before that night however, they had another chance two weeks later.
Volunteers from the San- ta’s Village Committee at Tap- ply-Thompson Community Center realized they couldn’t
have hundreds of chil- dren coming into the building this year so instead they packed up some of their decora- tions and moved the vil- lage down N. Main St.. There families could safely drive by to see Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with Rudolph, the
 Santa was joined
by many of his local volunteers for a photo as they awaited the opening of Tapply- Thompson Community Center’s first ever outdoor Santa’s Village in mid-December.
community sing-a-long each year, this time they brought in Denise Therrien to add her own singing talents to the event.
“We knew that because of COVID we couldn’t enjoy singing Christmas carols together. Denise volunteered to sing for us though and it was just wonderful,” said Events Committee chair Lucille Keegan. “I’m really surprised and pleased with the crowd who came out [that night].”
Santa also paid a visit to the square, lighting the tree and greeting everyone from atop a
Peter Daniels and Don
Stoke were among the volunteers who helped decorate trees donated by Bristol Rotary for an outdoor Santa’s Village on N. Main St. in Bristol
this year. The trees were then donated once more to a few
local families who needed assistance over the holidays.
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