By Rod Lee
The Trudell family will be on the street early and staying late when Millbury’s 21st annual Chain of Lights kicks into gear on Sunday, December 8th.
Talking about the event in her law office on Canal Street last week, Heather Trudell said the Chain of Lights is something her children look forward to every year. As do so many others.
Ms. Trudell is part of an organizing committee for the Chain of Lights that also includes Judy O’Connor from the Millbury Senior Center, Lynne Feiz from bankHometown and Ashley Marcum from Millbury National Bank.
The tricky part for her, Ms. Trudell said, is getting to as many of the thirty-six stops across town as possible. Even with the assistance of the free “East Route” and “West Route” trolleys that will be running, that is difficult in that the official hours of the proceedings are 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Fortunately for the Trudell’s and their fellow Chain of Lights enthusiasts, however, some of the venues will be available earlier than that. CareOne at Millbury’s Holiday Fair, for instance, featuring homemade crafts, blankets, baskets, a rollup raffle, an auction raffle, vendors and a café, starts at 9:30 a.m.
Attendees can get a jump on things even before that, with the Millbury Parents Club’s third annual “Breakfast with the Elves” at the Elmwood Street School at 8:30 (until 11:00). Proceeds from the breakfast benefit the school.
Residents and visitors have more reason than ever to be excited for this year’s Millbury Chain of Lights, Ms. Trudell said.
“Last year we waived the participation fee of one hundred dollars and we are doing that again in 2019,” she said. “We have more corporate sponsors this year and it helps.” Meaning bankHometown, Goretti’s Supermarket, Direnzo Towing & Recovery, Dunkin’, MMC Tax & Business Advisors, Mulhane Home for Funerals, Millbury Family Dentistry and Keenan and Trudell Law Office. All are contributing $1000.
While there are many activities and attractions to choose from, the Gingerbread House Contest has become a cornerstone of the event. “Entrants can drop off their displays at the Cake Shop Café the Saturday before (December 7) from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.,” Ms. Trudell said. “We have a Kids category—under-18 with no adult assistance—and a Family/Groups category. We get a lot of neighborhood entries. The last two years were the most entries we’ve received and we get a steady fifteen to twenty.”
To witness Ms. Trudell’s enthusiasm for the Chain of Lights is to understand why the event has been so successful. Putting aside her usual workload, she is liable to mention “Vinnie the Bubble Guy” on the Common from 11:30 to 2:30. “My kids love that, they jump through life-size bubbles. He’s fun; and he does a puppet show at the library.”
Then, she notes, there are “the carolers, The Harmony Jewels, four of them, from 1:00 to 4:00. This year the Carpenter School is doing wooden cutouts for picture taking. The Boy Scouts will be on the Common with marshmallows. We have been doing that with my youngest daughter since she was a baby. Seaman Engineering will be doing a Buddy the Elf theme and maybe STEM projects. Puffin’s Restaurant is new this year with a ʽWho’ville theme with the Grinch. BankHometown will be doing tractor rides and Mr. Kim does puppets. Country Candle will be doing candle dipping. The Elm Draught House, new last year, will be showing classics like Frosty the Snowman, all day. Elmhurst Dairy Farm will have cows and goats and Christmas trees, Krave Fitness an obstacle course, Millbury Federal Credit Union raffle baskets to benefit the Millbury Public Schools, photos with Frosty and Rudolph and crafts. Ray’s True Value Hardware will have a craft fair. So will St. Brigid’s. There will be a petting zoo at Stowe Farm. Two Girls Art Studio will offer ornament making.”
Pizza Chef, across from Rite Aid, hosts an acoustic band doing Christmas carols. “They’re fabulous,” Ms. Trudell said.
Judy O’Connor of the Millbury Senior Center has been involved with the Chain of Lights from “Day One,” Ms. O’Connor said. “We have a great time. The trolleys dispatch from here. We try to make them every fifteen minutes but sometimes forty-seven get on at the same time!”
The Senior Center, at 1 River St., will host a Victorian Tea with sandwiches and there will be homemade pastries for sale and craft vendors.
“WSRS will be at the Senior Center with a prize wheel from 12:00 to 2:00,” Ms. O’Connor said.
“The Railroad Car here is a big draw! Children can decorate a gingerbread cookie and I run out. Every kid leaves happy as a clam.
“It’s such a wonderful town event, to promote Millbury and show off our businesses.
“You push my excitement button, just thinking about it!” she said.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.
The Gingerbread House Contest is always of a highlight of Millbury’s Chain of Lights, the 2019 edition of which is scheduled for Sunday, December 8.