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Sutton Chain of Lights illuminates another year for local communities

By Amy Palumbo-LeClaire

The good ole’ days don’t have to be so old, or far away. If you’re lucky enough, they might even be next door. I’ve lived in the town of Sutton for more than twenty-three years. The good old days have practically been in my backyard. I’ve raised my son in a neighborhood that has allowed him the freedom to ride his bike around the block, trick or treat amongst kids he’s known for a decade and eat apple pie with a quarterback he’s routed for his entire life. Suburban life has worked out, then, and although we may not have earned a spot in Norman Rockwell’s portfolio (who can compete with boys in brooks?) perhaps we’ve taken a fair shot. We’ve offered our children a healthy dose of the good old days. 

The Sutton Chain of Lights, an honored tradition for over twenty-five years, originally founded by the Vaillancourt family, the Keown family and the Eaton family, is like a treasured black and white photo that’s been colored and cropped with new vision, along with immense community support. The idea to link other towns together to become one unified  “chain” in the Blackstone Valley region and help promote local businesses and tourism, has led to a treasured annual tradition. Whether hiking in a wintry forest at Sleighbell Christmas Tree Farm & Gift Barn to pick out a  tree or sipping sensational (homemade) turkey soup at Sutton’s Council on Aging, visitors are sure to have an appetite for the day’s robust events.

This year every business location - the unique offerings for which are listed at - will be reachable by trolley with the exception of Sleighbell Farm and Eight Lots Schoolhouse (though both are still participating fully in the day’s events).

 “It takes a village,” said Christine Watkins, a vital member of the Chain of Lights Planning Committee, along with Board of Directors Marnie Havalotti, Janet Gerard, and Lauren Gerard.   

“It’s a sign of a good event when it transitions through many hands and still has sustained its essence. The fact that the Chain has changed hands, from those who started it to several coordinating people is testament to what people hope to see. We are hoping that the next generation will step up,” said Watkins.

This year, twenty locations will step up to participate amid seventeen trolley stops.  Trolley guides and location greeters are trained to entertain, guide, and provide information to visitors.  Watkins encourages Chain of Lights patrons to visit their website at in order to read descriptions, explore desired destinations, and plan ahead. The Sutton First Congregational Church, centrally located, acts as a hub to the trolley transit—one that manages 5,000 visitors per year, thanks to dedicated volunteers and sponsorship. All three Trolley Routes - which feature festive “window seat” rides through Sutton’s scenic pastures and historical sites - stop at the First Congregational Church.

Although all locations have parking, trolley riders are encouraged to park at one of three locations to ensure that visitors traveling by car can also park and visit the sites:

  1. Behind Sutton High School – Friendly Way
  2. Blackstone National Golf Course
  3. 21 Galaxy Pass (Dirt Lot) beside Market 32.


Volunteer as a Trolley Guide and receive a free lunch, training script, and the opportunity to hone your verbal and interpersonal skills amid hours of merriment! Contact Christine Watkins at [email protected] for details.

Chain of Lights Visitors  - DRESS WARM!  Most of the day is spent outdoors.