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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hundreds Make Merry at Library Caroling Party

Hundreds Make Merry at 
Library Caroling Party:
Pequot Open House offers crafts, wagon rides, wine and more
(Posted on 12/22)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Southport, CT – To see the scene, one would think Christmas had already arrived. The wine was flowing, the egg nog nogging, cookie sprinkles flying and carolers caroling.

The site was the Pequot Library at 720 Pequot Ave. and the occasion was the annual Holiday Caroling Party and Open House, held late afternoon Wednesday. The chief organizers were Bill Russell, President of the Pequot Library Board of Trustees, his wife Erin, the chairperson of the event, and Children’s Librarian Susan Ei.

“This is a wonderful holiday tradition,” said the Library’s Director of Development Elizabeth Patterson. “We’ve been doing this for years. The Russells and community volunteers took this to a new level a few years ago. It used to be simple with carol singing. Now there are multiple layers to the event.”

Indeed, the attractions were numerous including a wine bar, cider stations, multiple craft tables, horse and carriage rides, a firebowl and caroling. There was something for everyone.

The most populous area by far was the auditorium, where four banks of tables dressed with red plastic covers had been set up. Each bank offered a different craft activity and dozens of children buzzed from one to the next, guided by a team of youths dubbed “Secret Service Agents” by Ei.

One table provided sugar cookie decorating, where mini paintbrushes were dipped in bowls of liquefied colored icing and sprinkles and mini marshmallows added. Sarah Tabacchi, 5, and her sister, Annabel, 3, were fully engaged in the activity.

The Bowens – mom Dabney, holding baby Leighton, and daughter Wesley, 3 -- were doing the same at the opposite end of the table. “My kids love this and it puts us in the Christmas spirit,” said Dabney.

Making pinecone bird feeders one table over were Monica Jain and her daughter Saloni, 9. “Saloni loves to celebrate Christmas even though we don’t mark it in India,” said Monica, as they rolled large pinecones in Crisco and then in birdseed.

Grace Montelli, 4, standing with mom Debbie and little sister Jane, 2, favored bead making. “A friend of mine is a member of the library association and invited me down. We’re enjoying the Christmas spirit and seeing the horsies,” said Debbie.

Max Preusch, 2, was a fan of sticking stickers on holiday scenes. Mom Alicia supervised, saying, “He’s doing a great job with the stickers. I’m teaching him about Christmas. This will probably be the first one he remembers.”

At the wine bar in the reading room, Sam Kingston was pouring red and white selections provided by Kingston Family Vineyards. Doing some sampling was Southporter Nikki Pecknold, holding daughter Georgia and standing with Pat Alianiello. “We’re having a great time. It’s something we do with the kids. We’ll start the night off here. It’s a great family event we look forward to each year.”

Fairfielder Catherine Friedline, standing nearby with Don Burton, Southport, and Tony Gravanis, in from Hong Kong, said, “Children need traditions. The wine bar is an obvious bonus for the adults.”

Marveling at the scene, the Library’s Executive Director Daniel Snydacker said, “We really put our heart and soul into these things. As a library, we like to be an anchor for seasonal events. It’s a great role for us. We bring the generations together in one event in a time when we’ve become so age segregated.”

As Southport Congregational Church’s Rev. Paul Whitmore, wife Laura and several Santa’s helpers kicked off the caroling with a rendition of “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”, the firebowl sparked to life out in front of the library and a line formed along a candlelit path for horse and buggy rides. The latter were provided by Norfolk, CT-based Loon Meadow Farm.

One terrific plus of the event was a charity-based element called “The Gift of a Book.” Ei explained, “For every $20 donated, the Library will donate a book to the Bridgeport School system. In return, the donor can decorate an ornament to hang on the library’s book tree, do a reindeer craft and receive a holiday-themed souvenir book.”

Bringing a cider to her son Matthew, 7, Margaret Krauss said about the event, “This is absolutely fabulous. I’ll be here every year going forward!”

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