All the best of the holidays and the community were combined and on display at Chelsea Winter Fest this past Saturday. The second year celebration held outdoors at the Burke School Complex was a good time had by the more than 500 kids and adults who reveled in the spirit of the season.
“Wow, what a time,” exclaimed City Manager Jay Ash, the organizer of the event. “Make no doubt about it, we have a special place and special relationships here in Chelsea, but there’s something about a well-run and well-attended community celebration of the holiday spirit that makes this time of year even more exhilarating.”
That heightened excitement Ash described was certainly very evident. Attendees played games, sang songs, enjoyed munchies, rode rides, won raffles, and took home baked goods. Community agencies highlighted their services, school and dance studio teams performed and so many, led by a generous Chelsea business community, contributed to make sure that each and every participant walked away with something both tangible and intangible.
“I’m so proud of our community and so grateful to the many businesses that contributed to what felt like a ‘Hallmark moment,’” related Arthur Arsenault, the president of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and a volunteer at the event. “It was great to see so many have such a wonderful holiday experience, and the smiles on the faces of the kids were as warming to our hearts as the hot chocolate was to our cold bodies.”
Games like Bowling Over Santa, Frosty Toss and the Recycling Challenge gave the event a carnival-like feeling, although parents did not have to pay anything as their kids played and won glow necklaces and chances for raffle prizes. Those raffle prizes included sports tickets, gift certificates, toys, bikes and much more.
“We’re so lucky to be part of this great community,” proclaimed Madelyn Garcia, owner of Garcia Real Estate, who, along with her brokerage team, donated 10 bikes for raffle prizes. “And it was especially nice to take a pause from all the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life to enjoy the more basic qualities that make our lives so rich and rewarding.”
Attendees received raffle tickets by showing up, playing games, donating toys and wearing festive headwear (even City Manager Jay Ash donned a striped elf’s hat). More than 200 toys, many donated by Chelsea Zonta and others brought individually by caring residents, were gathered and given to the Salvation Army for the local toy drive. Kids played on a moon bounce and were treated to a ride on the Chelsea Winter Fest Express, a trackless train ride around the outfield of Merritt Park.
“To a kid, they said the train ride was their favorite thing to do,” reported City Council President Leo Robinson, who organized all of his colleagues to donate and volunteer at the event. “And parents were so grateful that our sponsors stepped up so that they didn’t have to pay anything to give their kids a memorable holiday time.”
In between games, rides and raffles, Chelsea High School and Off Broadway Dance Studio performers entertained the audience. Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch posed for pictures and danced with kids in the crowd to holiday music played by DJ George Athas.
“Our performing arts program continues to show-off the talents of our kids,” said Superintendent of Schools Mary Bourque, who hosted the event and made sure the all the logistics added to the experience. “We have so many great kids achieving so much, and seeing them give back to the community through performance and volunteering shows why we’re are all so proud of them.”
Community organizations hosted information tables and the Salvation Army canteen truck was on hand to provide hot chocolate and apple cider.
“I continue to be so impressed with how Chelsea celebrates community and looks out after each other,” offered Captain Scott Peabody, director of the local Salvation Army unit and server of the day’s hot liquid offerings. “Seeing our business community, elected officials, local agencies and so many good people come together to make an event like this possible really highlights the essence of the holidays and the strength of our community.”
Even those who did not win one of the more than 60 raffle prizes that were handed out left the event with plush toys that were given out to the youngest of children and baked goods that were given to their parents.
“We serve communities all around the country,” indicated Jack Anderson, president of Muffin Town, the Crescent Avenue company which donated all the baked goods, “but I’ve never seen a community put together an event like this. It reminded me of a great big family celebration and why we’re so very proud to be a part of the Chelsea community.”
As day transitioned to night and the thousands of holiday lights that were strung to the fences turned on, an already festive atmosphere became even more reflective of the holiday season.
“Chelsea Winter Fest certainly brought to the surface many of the values we all hold so dear,” opined Representative Eugene O’Flaherty, who was joined by Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Senator Sal DiDomenico and Congressman Michael Capuano in providing financial support for the event. “There’s certainly something really special about the holiday season and celebrating it together the way that Chelsea Winter Fest encourages us to do. It’s a reason why we all hope this wonderful event will be a long tradition that will be observed here in Chelsea for many more years to come.”
Major sponsors of Chelsea Winter Fest included: Logan Pre-Flight, Muffin Town, Garcia Real Estate, Representative Eugene O’Flaherty, Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Kayem Foods, Century 21 Northshore, Compare Supermarket, Chelsea Kiwanis, Chelsea Rotary, Chelsea Bank, Cataldo Ambulance, Today’s Auto Body, Market Basket, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harbour Foods, State Garden, Signature Breads, Congressman Michael Capuano, Senator Sal DiDomenico, City Manager Jay Ash, Dunkin’ Donuts, Dockside Restaurant, the Chelsea City Council, Nancy Sales, McDonald’s, Eastern Minerals, Metro Credit, Carbone Sheet Metal, the Residence Inn by Marriott, the Wyndham Hotel and Coprico Printers.