‘Tis the Season

I doubt I was the only person perturbed by the Christmas music being played on the radio before Thanksgiving, knowing it was probably just a thinly veiled ploy to get shoppers in the holiday buying mood.

And I was spared the agony of the Black Friday frenzy since I spent the day flying home from Nashville, where I had a wonderful, family-filled and gluttonous visit. But now that the Christmas season is officially upon us, I am ready to deck the halls, hang the stockings and spike the eggnog.

Last weekend’s “Shop Local Saturday” was a success, with lots of shoppers strolling along the shops on Main Street under warm and sunny skies. Supporting our locally owned shops and restaurants is vital to keeping Bridgton a thriving, eclectic town, and the holiday season is what keeps store owners afloat through the leaner winter months.

The average American spends $700 a year on Christmas presents. If only $64 of that was spent on locally made gifts that would help create 200,000 American jobs. So please spend wisely, and visit the many wonderful shops in Bridgton. Thanks!

Food for Thought

Bridgton’s Comprehensive Planning Committee has been meeting every week for two years to present a blueprint for sensible, aesthetic and business-friendly development guidelines to local voters. Community input is essential to a workable plan, and they are asking the public to join them in drafting the best possible plan for Bridgton’s future.

Four Potluck dinners are being held this week in the four major “neighborhoods” of Bridgton. The Western and Upper Ridge quadrants were held earlier in the week, but for those of you in South Bridgton and the Middle Village you have a chance to attend these community suppers to discuss the planning and design needs specific to your area. Suppers start at 5:45 p.m., and you are asked to bring a dish to share. The Wednesday, Dec. 5, meeting will be held at the South

Bridgton Congregational Church, and the next day will be at the Town Hall on North High Street. Please call Economic Director Anne Krieg at 647-8786 for questions and to sign up.

Empty Tank

The BCC Fuel Collaborative, which offers heating assistance to our neediest neighbors, has already expended its emergency fund for this season’s applicants. In past years, the nonprofit has assisted 30 Bridgton families with 100-gallon fuel deliveries, enabling them to stay warm through the bitter winter months.

The Community Center is asking everyone with any means to please donate what you can to the fund; the federal government has made even deeper cuts in its fuel assistance funding, which leaves the burden on the town. All donations are tax-deductible and can be mailed or dropped off at the BCC at 15 Depot St. in Bridgton from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Please call the Community Center at 647-3116 for more information.

Christmas Magic

Sure, we hear Christmas music all season long at shops and on the radio, but there’s nothing more festive than hearing it performed live. The Portland Symphony is staging its annual “Magic of Christmas” concert on Friday, Dec. 14, and Landmark Human Resources is sponsoring a trip to Portland to see it.

Round-trip transportation departs Bridgton at 2 p.m., with a “picnic” supper provided on the way home. $60 includes transportation, your ticket and dinner. Reservations are required, so please call Jamie or Judi at 647-8396 or email [email protected] for more information.

Tinsel Town

I mentioned the Festival of Lights Parade in my last column but here’s one more reminder, because this special event is finally here and will be bigger than ever, on Saturday, Dec. 1.

A “Candlelight Stroll” starts at 5 p.m., with candles handed out in Pondicherry Square at 4:45. Imagine the beautiful glow when 2,000 candles fill Main Street, as participants walk through town with their candles alight. The parade will begin immediately after the processional, and will include music, the floats of local businesses, friends and family, and of course Santa. This fun holiday tradition is a great kickoff to the Christmas season in Bridgton, so bundle up and bring the family to the festivities.

Bah Humbug!

If you’re looking for a great reason to hit the stores in Freeport and soak up some classic Christmas culture at the same time, here’s your chance. Bridgton’s own renowned Broadway stage actor Will Rhys is reprising his acclaimed one-man show “Scrooge” on the Factory Stage during the holiday Sparkle Days in Freeport.

Rhys transforms himself into not only Ebenezer Scrooge but every other character in the beloved story, accompanied with lovely background music and the simplest of props. His mesmerizing performance will entertain an audience of all ages, and children are welcome to sit front and center. The show will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday Dec. 6, 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m., with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m., then again on Friday and Saturday the 14th and 15th at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are between $5 and $15; please call Eric Sawyer at 370-5340 or email [email protected] for more information.

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