Warren went all out for the holidays Friday night and Saturday, swiftly leaving behind a minor controversy and concentrating instead on the sights and sounds of Christmas.
The 25th Warren Holiday Festival went off without a hitch, three days after the Warren Town Council agreed to let one of its stalwarts, the Federal Blues militia, continue to fire their muskets along the Santa parade route as members “deemed appropriate.” That came after some parents complained that the militia members’ muskets were
too loud in years past.
By Friday night, all that had been forgotten. Hundreds of residents, perhaps 1,000 or more, lined Warren’s streets for the traditional winter rite. The Fire Spinners, a popular fire juggling and acrobatic group, drew a giant crowd on Baker Street, and other jugglers walked between Water and Main streets. Singers from Mt. Hope High School caroled outside of town hall as town officials for the traditional lighting just after 7 p.m. Marilyn Mathison, who has run the festival for about half its life, scurried around hurriedly attending to things as the night unfolded.
“It’s even better when it isn’t cold out!” remarked Warren resident Christine Santos, who came with her boyfriend Robert and her toddler, Becca. “It doesn’t look like she minds.”
After the lighting, a small concert by Mike D. and the All Stars rocked the newly-renovated Jefferson Street Armory. The concert was a fund-raiser for the festival, which Ms. Mathison said takes at least three or four months to organize and costs upwards of $7,500 to put on.
The spirit didn’t abate Saturday, as ornament workshops, bell dining and other activities were held across town. It also coincided with a busy shopping day. Warren celebrated Small Business Saturday, and shops were open and doing a brisk business, merchants reported. Members of Discover Warren were accepting wooden nickels worth $10 — available at the Coffee Depot — in hopes of pushing local business and keeping dollars in town.
It seemed to work, the Wooden Midshipman’s Katie Dickson said that evening. How were things?
“Busy!” she said.
The next Warren event in Warren happens Friday night, when Discover Warren holds Warren Wonderland. During the promotion, from 5 to 8 p.m., merchants will have goodies for shoppers, storytelling and refreshments. Also, the Coffee Depot will sell wooden nickels at a reduced rate — five for $40, a $10 savings. For every $20
shoppers spend, they’ll be entered into a raffle with prizes of a $500 gift basket and more. Also, a percentage of proceeds go to the Bristol Warren Education Foundation.