HARRISON — With Christmas in Harrison entering into it’s 30th year, new president of the organization Sandy Swett promises the Friendly Village will be filled with holiday cheer – even more so than in years past.
“Christmas in Harrison was always good but it’s going to be better,” she says, laughing.
The 2016 edition is slated to begin at 5 p.m. today, Thursday, Dec. 1, and will run through 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, in downtown Harrison. The theme this year is A Victorian Christmas.
It all started with Harrison resident Joyce Boos, who wanted to have a formal Christmas ball, Swett says. Then a group of lades decided to grow it into a town-wide celebration, which turned the event into what it is today.
Since it’s the third decade of the annual event, organizers have added and brought back three activities to make Christmas in Harrison even more special, Swett says. They include a puppet show Friday evening, costumed characters walking around the village and the once-popular Christmas in Harrison Dance, that was last held several years ago, on Saturday night.
The festivities kick off at 5 p.m. at the United Parish Congregational Church of Harrison at 77 Main St. There is a dinner and John Sparrow will provide the Christmas tunes during dinner.
Then from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. is the Christmas concert, provided by the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Chamber Choir under the direction of Dennis Boyd.
And at 7:30 p.m. is the live nativity scene that Swett’s family and friends put on, complete with live donkeys and sheep.
The new puppet show starts Friday’s activities at 6 p.m. at the Town Office, 20 Front St. Libby Armstrong presents “The Night Before Christmas.”
At 6:30 p.m. everyone heads outside for hot cocoa and waits for Santa to arrive. The Girl Scouts and Brownies will sing Christmas carols.
And Christmas in Harrison almost didn’t have a Christmas tree this year, until Bob Strauss of Camp Wigwam stepped up and donated a 30-foot tree for the event. Adam Gosselin of Q-Team & Cook’s Tree Service will donate bucket truck to decorate the tree, along with the Harrison House tree at the head of Long Lake.
The fun continues on Saturday when the Christmas parade steps off at 9:30 a.m. from Depot Street through the center of town to the United Parish Congregational Church.
There are eight open houses on Saturday, including the Caswell Conservancy Center, the Village Tie-Up, the Harrison General Store, the Olde Mille Tavern, The Ballroom, Northeast Bank, the Lions Den and Paint the Town. All eight locations will be a stop for the candy cane scavenger hunt, which includes a word scramble – with a letter at each spot – and prizes.
In addition to the Harrison Village Library’s annual cookie walk at 10 a.m., there will be gingerbread house making that visitors can bring the tasty structures home with them. Make Your Own Greenery Swag will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Town Office.
While the swag making is free, donations will be accepted, she adds.
Culminating the three-day event is the Christmas in Harrison Dance at 8 p.m. at the Harrison VFW, 176 Waterford Road (Route 35). It is a BYOB event and the Afterburners will provide the music. Tickets are $10 and there will be 50/50 and other raffles.
“I am excited,” she says. “It used to be 15 years ago everybody knew the first week in December you were going to the Christmas in Harrison Dance.”
And she hopes to make that a tradition once again.
Swett acknowledged others who are helping her pull off Christmas in Harrison. They include Susan Wallace, who’s in charge of Saturday’s craft fair in the Grange Hall and Town Office and decorating the village, along with Maryalice Nile, who’s taken over the Facebook account for the event, and Muffet Crowell, who organizes the parade.
“It got down to four people before [organizing the event]. Now we’ve got all these people who are doing it, helping, and it makes all the difference in the world,” Swett says.