Lights, Santa, Action: Burrillville villages to get holiday bling, new year-round lighting at upcoming events

The "Shimmering Arch" installation will light up Harrisville starting next week.

BURRILLVILLE – Events over the next two weekends will kick off the Christmas season in town, while also bringing a bright new look – and some festive attractions – to two Burrillville villages.

The Burrillville Redevelopment Agency has purchased light-up holiday installations for Pascoag and Harrisville, with plans to unveil the attractions at free events on Saturday, Nov. 25 and Saturday, Dec. 2. New, permanent lighting will also be unveiled, to be used throughout the year to add life to the village streets.

A 11 X 11-foot square lighted gift box, complete with a big red bow, will be illuminated at the Downtown Pascoag & Neighborhood Association’s Victorian Holiday this Saturday, where local kids will get the chance to visit with Santa once he arrives via fire truck and Jeep parade. The annual holiday event will take place by at the Pascoag Bridgeway starting at 4 p.m., with the parade expected to arrive around 5 p.m., and will feature carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, vendors, food trucks and more.

This year, when Santa and Mrs. Clause climb down from their perch upon the decorated fire truck, they will be ready for photos inside BRA’s new, illuminated feature, which will remain in the village for the holiday season as an attraction for visitors. The Very Merry Dickens Carolers, dressed in Victorian period costume, will be there to welcome them, and will then stroll the streets of Pascoag singing holiday songs.

The gift box, purchased from the business Dimensional Holiday Displays, will be positioned in a space just above the fountain at Fountain Square Park and will light up at 4 p.m. to kick off the free, family event.

The following week, an 11-foot, “shimmering arch ornament,” with a bright reindeer at center will light up the Harrisville pavilion during Santa at Stillwater, a separate annual holiday event put on by the Burrillville Parks & Recreation Department. Santa will again arrive via fire truck at that gathering, and will hand out small gifts to children on his good list, while families enjoy hot chocolate and donuts, raffles and a performance by the Burrillville Middle School Choir, at an event starting at 1 p.m. at the pavilion by Jesse Smith Memorial Library.

The installations were purchased with a RI Commerce Main Street Streetscape Grant, obtained by the agency with help from Town Planner Ray Goff. The grant program aims to improve the state’s commercial districts through the addition of elements such as signage, lighting, facades and sidewalks.

“The Streetscape Grant gave us the opportunity to do more things with lights,” explained Jim Langlois, chairman of the Redevelopment Agency.

Langlois said that both new installations will remain lit through the holiday, and visitors are invited to stop by and take photos anytime.

The agency also used the grant to extend another popular village attraction first unveiled in 2022: year-long decorative lights that hang above Pascoag Main Street adding color and life to the area. In Pascoag, the lights will be extended from their current end by George’s Pizza up past Gonyea Park to corner of High and Church Streets.

And new, permanent lighting will also be installed in Harrisville along Main Street, Chapel Street and East Avenue, a project started at the request of members of Harrisville Hose Company No. 1. The programable, professional-grade lighting, installed free-of-charge by the Pascoag Utility District will be used for other holidays throughout the year, with different sections to be lit specifically to highlight areas for special events, such as shows at the Assembly Theatre.

“Everyone has been so happy with with we’ve done in Pascoag that we’re extending it,” Langlois explained.

The lighting is just the latest focus in what has now been a successful, decade long effort to address blight and reinvigorate Burrillville’s sleepy former mill villages, bringing economic development and activity to town.

“The big idea here is that the Redevelopment Agency does different things, from knocking down buildings to building parks and other community enhancements,” said Langlois.

The agency chairman thanked all who have made the project possible, from Planner Goff who first made them aware of the grant and RI Commerce officials who approved the funding, to the Burrillville Department of Public Works for assembling the installations, Harrisville Hose Company for helping with that end of the effort, and PUD for installing the overhead feature.

Once Christmas has past, the holiday installations will be stored away for future years, making the season just a little brighter in Burrillville for years to come.

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