Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow?
The Christmas season officially arrived here Saturday, ushered in by the 17th annual Festival on the Common.
People gathered in balmy air to hear singers, check out trees decorated by city students, watch the ice carvers, visit the petting zoo, maybe take a hay ride—way too warm for a sleigh ride—and perhaps visit with Santa.
The festival was dedicated in memory of Joseph Mahoney and John McElhiney, who both devoted many hours to the event, according to the event’s emcee. The festival included the traditional reading of “The Night Before Christmas” by the mayor, Scott Galvin, and the lighting of the Common.
Sitting on the Common curb, Joanie Butler, 6, and sister Sinead, 4, sang a rousing rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
“They like to sing,” their mother, Siobhan Curran of Woburn, said. Mom’s come to the festival even before the girls were born, for about 15 years, off and on, she said.
Across the Common, twins Maya and Cole Tourkantonis, zig-zagged from one activity to another with their mother, Isabel, and paternal grandpa, Arthur Tourkantonis. The twins, wearing new holiday hats, will be 3 three days before Christmas. Their dad, Arthur Tourkantonis, Jr., has been a police officer here for more than 10 years, Isabel said, so the family has been coming to the festival “for a long time.” On patrol on the Common, Dad came by to say “Hi” to his family.
Long-time festival-goer Veronica Andrews offered some history about the holiday houses on the Common. Almost half a century ago, her husband’s father, Leon Andrews, who worked for the Department of Public Works, started to decorate the Common for the holidays, she said. High school students built and painted the structures, Veronica said. When her father-in-law he retired, she said her husband took over the decorating. The building you see today are not the originals, she said; they were destroyed by a fire.
Festival-goers appreciated Saturday’s warm temperature. “I’ve been here some years when it was so cold,” one woman said as she crossed the Common, “my nose froze.”
The crowd was bigger than usual Saturday, according to Woburn Police Lt. Bob Rufo, one of the men and women in blue working the festival, probably, he surmised, because of the warm, clear weather.