WOW’s DECEMBERFEST 2020 REIMAGINED FOR COVID TIMES
Westfield on Weekends (WOW) has announced that the 2020 edition DecemberFest, Westfield’s annual holiday celebration has been reimagined with three distinctive components to capture the spirit of the season in safe and responsible ways during the COVID crisis.
“We learned so much when creating and executing the events of PumpkinFest this past October,” Bob Plasse, WOW’s co-president explained. “Given the wild success of the Scarecrow Trail and the Haunted Houses tour, we felt that we could use elements of both events as a template to create activities that did not require in-person attendance.”
DecemberFest 2020 will feature a drive-by Holiday Light Challenge (December 5 – January 2); a virtual and in-person Tree Jubilee (November 27 – December 6) and Magic on the Air, a series holiday programming to be telecast on Westfield’s community television and radio stations throughout the month of December.
Westfield Bank is the major sponsor of DecemberFest 2020 with additional funding from Lisa Olesak-Sullivan of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and in-kind support from Roots Athletic Center; WCPC; WSKB; and Reminder Publishing, the publishers of The Westfield News, The Reminder and Pennysaver. Funding has also been provided with a grant from the Westfield Cultural Council, a local program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
HOLIDAY LIGHTS CHALLENGE
The Holiday Lights Challenge will offer families the opportunity to show off their outdoor holiday displays and to win cash prizes
“Knowing that the online map for the Scarecrow Trail and Haunted Houses tour was viewed by more than 23,000 people, we felt it made perfect sense to follow the same format for Decemberfest,” Jason Polan, WOW Event Director noted. “Each decorated home will be denoted on an interactive map on the WOW website (westfieldonweekends.com.) that can be followed by families who wish to make the tour.”
“Registration for the challenge may be easily accomplished.” he continued. “Folks are asked send a message with their names, addresses and photos of their displays to WOW’s Facebook page. A $15 entry fee to support the prize giveaway can be forwarded by texting “GIVE” to 833-500-9560″.
Tour participants may also vote for their favorite houses by “liking” them on WOW’s Facebook page. Winners of the challenge will be announced on or about January 2.”
The third annual Tree Jubilee is a special fundraiser that supports WOW’s community programming and administrative fees. This year, it will take place virtually, as well as at Roots Athletic Center at 181 Root Road, where visitors may view a wonderland of more than 25 trees and wreaths, donated by area individuals, businesses and organizations.
“Since we are unable to predict the state of public gatherings in December, we have designed the jubilee so that folks can remain at home and still participate,” Lisa Sunderland Burns, WOW chair of the event said. “However, we invite everyone to see the trees and wreaths in person for those wishing to visit in person.”
“The large lobby outside of the new offices of Reminder Publications provides a great gallery space for the jubilee that has outgrown WOW’s downtown location on Elm Street,” Burns said. “We are happy to introduce this 100,000 square foot complex to many, who may have yet to see this incredible athletic facility, as well as showing off the recently relocated offices of Reminder Publishing and The Westfield News.”
As in past years, some of the trees and wreaths are designed by their crafters to reflect the work of their businesses or organizations with some, offering additional prizes and certificates within their branches. Raffle tickets will give participants the opportunity to take their favorite tree or wreath home, when the winners are drawn at the end of Tree Jubilee on December 6.
“It is important to note one change from last year,” Burns explained. Raffle tickets may only be purchased and submitted online through WOW’s website at westfieldonweekends.com ,”
MAGIC ON THE AIR
The concept for Magic on the Air came from a summer meeting, when Bob Plasse and Jason Polan met with Mayor Don Humason to discuss whether the events of DecemberFest including The Mayor’s Tree Lighting, could be safely held. Once it was acknowledged that these traditional events were not going to be possible, brainstorming about potential substitutes began with this unique month of on-air programming celebrating the season the result.
“We realized we could utilize Westfield’s community radio and public access television stations in a way that had never been done before and in the process could spotlight the fine programming that these community channels broadcast every day throughout the year. ” Plasse explained. “With the help of Peter Cowles, the City’s media specialist and manager of community programming and Ken Stomski of KS Solutions, we have been able to put together more than 20 hours of special programming for area families to watch and enjoy together.
“We approached Music Departments at both Westfield High School and Westfield State, the Westfield Theatre Group; and other community individuals and organizations and with their generous help, have been able to assemble an impressive slate of offerings,” Plasse continued. “We have also been able to film several shows spotlighting the talents of WCPC on-air personalities, area artists and artisans, musicians and storytellers. Mayor Don Humason has even taped a recitation of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” which he traditionally reads to his son Quinn on Christmas Eve.”
In addition to programs featuring area talent, the roster will include taped proceedings of The Mayor’s Tree Lighting of 2018 and 2019; concerts by both the Westfield High Show Choir and Band; and a showcase of the talented musicians of Westfield State, taped at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. Of some note are two original musicals by area showsmiths, Kathi Palmer and Marion Dunk, that were recorded at past performances by the Westfield Theatre Group.
The complete schedule of Magic on The Air programming will be published in the Westfield News, on Facebook and on WOW’s website. Many shows will also be archived for viewing anytime on YouTube under DecemberFest 2020.
Founded in 2003, Westfield on Weekends is a volunteer 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to enrich the creative vitality of the community through accessible artistic and cultural events, programs and entertainment.