Newton Falls – Ever since the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association announced they would be unable to host this year’s Home 44444 the Holidays due to lack of available volunteers from the community, various local groups have pulled together to plan their own holiday celebrations at the Community Center on Quarry Street. November saw a small gathering of homemade crafters presenting their wares in an attempt to promote a beat-the-shopping-season-rush opportunity for those wishing to avoid the big box stores and inevitable craziness that is the mall environment. This past weekend brought another such event: a Community Christmas festival to keep everyone’s spirits high with the gift-giving day right around the corner.
Residents of our small town and visitors alike were welcomed through the doors by local Boy Scouts who were helping to organize a canned food drive to benefit the Church Mouse. With the event only halfway done, a row of already-filled grocery carts were standing at attention along the front wall, waiting to be dispatched to those in need this winter season.
Though the massive annual undertaking usually held at the sprawling high school was indeed a tradition wistfully missed by some in attendance at Saturday’s more intimate offering, the smaller-scale celebration satisfied those in need of a sampling of holiday cheer as visits with Santa, a cookie and snack table, and dance performances provided by local troupes entertained the crowd. In between acts, the stage was stolen momentarily by a tiny tot reciting “ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” in her own unique way. Various neighborhood organizations sold Newton Falls-themed merchandise, and assorted crafters presented handmade items for those in search of that last-minute gift. Other event staples such as a Chinese Auction, a 50/50 raffle, and face painting for the kids, in addition to those photo ops with Santa, offered an opportunity to take a little bit of the spirit of the season home as well. Santa’s next visit to Newton Falls was the very next day at a free pasta dinner at St. Mary’s cultural hall. One wonders just how he will have time to finish checking his list (and checking it twice) before Christmas with all these appearances in the 44444, but chances are his elves have it under control, leaving him to simply say: “Merry Christmas (and Happy Holidays) to all and to all a good night!”