WOONSOCKET — The city's historic downtown district will be awash in holiday spirit Thursday evening when the 4th Annual Woonsocket Main Street Holiday Stroll kicks off with a celebration featuring live entertainment, carriage rides, food and song, and the traditional tree-lighting ceremony next to City Hall.
Festivities take place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Linda S. Plays, event coordinator for the city's Main Street Planning Committee, says the Holiday Stroll is the result of the collaboration of many of the city's businesses, non-profit and government organizations to bring some holiday cheer to Main Street from Market Square to Monument Square.
"The Holiday Stroll is an event that is growing with more attractions and more downtown businesses taking part every year," Plays said.
Mayor Leo T. Fontaine added, "It's exciting because the Woonsocket Main Street Holiday Stroll is growing each year and it really shows that the cultural and artistic aspect that we're trying to promote on our historic Main Street is really taking hold. Despite the economic troubles we face, this is an opportunity to bring the people of our city together to kick off the holiday season. I want to thank all the people, organizations and businesses involved because this shows the kind of community spirit we have in our city."
During the three-hour event, live performers will offer amusements including fire dancing, singing, and theatrical performances; food and craft vendors will offer refreshments and shopping opportunities; and a horse-drawn carriage will provide complimentary rides from Market Square to the historic Woonsocket Depot, where there’s more singing and the Polar Express gift shop offers additional attractions.
There is parking available in the surrounding municipal parking lots located up and down Main Street. The complimentary horse & carriage rides, courtesy of Fairview Farms in Sutton, Mass., will have pick-up and drop-off locations in front of Le Moulin Village and the Depot.
The Main Street Event Planning Committee, which includes residents and community partners, came up with the idea for the Holiday Stroll four years ago.
"The city had always done something at River Island Park around the holidays and we thought it would be nice to expand that and bring in the downtown business community, which has really embraced the idea," Plays says. "It's a great way to encourage people to shop locally. For the most part, you're getting entertainment, great dining at reduced costs, an opportunity to shop for the holidays, and a night out to really enjoy what Main Street has to offer."
The event kicks off at 4:30 p.m. with the official City Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in the veterans park located next to City Hall, at 169 Main St. Santa Claus will arrive after Mayor Fontaine lights the tree. The ceremony will also feature singers and dancers.
Santa will travel down Main Street by horse-drawn carriage and arrive at the park to meet children.
The Woonsocket Police Department will also be collecting Toys for Tots at Santa’s House in the park next to City Hall.
"From there, everything spreads out," says Plays, adding that the holiday stroll will offer something for everyone along Main Street.
The list below details all event features confirmed to date. Additional attractions may be added:
• Live performance of “Holidays at Finlay’s Corner,” a short play recounting the lives of workers celebrating Christmas in 1930, at the Museum of Work & Culture, 42 South Main St. Admission is free. Perform-ances are at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
• Fire dancer Spogga, an artist who often appears at Waterfire in Providence, will perform fire shows on the Market Square stage.
• Le Moulin Village, the mill complex at 68 South Main St., will offer special sales from local merchants and vendors including Yarnia, the Frolicking Goddess, Beaudoin Rose and RiverzEdge Arts Project. Holiday performances on Le Moulin stage will include the Good Shepard Choir at 6 p.m.
• River Falls/City Side, 74 Main St., is offering reduced prices on comfort food items, and free hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies.
• Aly's Pub/Annex Diner, 80 River St., will have an eggnog station.
• New Attitudes Salon, 30A Main St., offers hot cider, cookies, and vendors selling jewelry and gift baskets.
• Timeless Antiques, 30B Main St., has 10% off sale.
• The Cakery, 91 Main St., will offer homemade treats and local vendors will be selling holiday products.
• Vino's, 83 Main St., will be offering holiday specials, and Liberty Market, 95 Main St., will be a raffle stop.
• The Mullen municipal parking lot across from The Call will feature Mickey G’s Clam Shack and his famous clam chowder, clamcakes, hot cider and fried doughboys.
• The Call, the Blackstone Valley's daily newspaper, 75 Main St., will feature period costumed newspaper boys and girls handing out complimentary copies of the newspaper, and holiday gift guides will be available inside the front lobby. A flautist from Rhode Island College will perform musical selections, and donations for the city's Milk Fund holiday appeal will be accepted on site.
• Tandoori Restaurant, 114 Main St., will offer 50% off dinner specials; and the Woonsocket Artists Guild will have a gallery reception and holiday treats.
• Train Depot, 1 Depot St., will be offering free cookies, the Polar Express Gift Shop and holiday vendors, and holiday music provided by the Homestead Group.
• J&M Paintball and Radio, 272 Main St., has free popcorn and a Christmas display in miniatures.
• Ciro's Tavern, 42 Cherry St., has free cookies, a pasta buffet, and holiday movies upstairs in Hampton Court.
• Beacon Charter High School, 320 Main St., will have a holiday open house.
• American Contractors, 321 Main St., will offer refreshments, food, live entertainment, holiday music, and "Teddy" the Christmas horse.
• Salvation Army, 30 North Main St., will be having holiday sales and window displays.