PICTURES: In Harrisville, Santa Claus comes to town to start the Christmas season

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Santa arrives at Jesse Smith Library and greets the waiting crowd. NRI NOW photo by Karen Iacobbo

BURRILLVILLE – This past Saturday, Dec. 2, people of all ages flocked to the family-friendly Santa at Stillwater event at Stillwater Mill Center in Harrisville. The annual Christmas event was sponsored by Burrillville Parks & Recreation Department, Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library and Harrisville Fire Department. 

A loud siren announced the arrival of the man from the North Pole. Dozens of people were gathered outside the library as Santa Claus arrived by fire truck courtesy of the Harrisville Fire Department. One of Santa’s elves whispered in the NRI NOW reporter’s ear that Santa strongly resembled Michael Dutilly, a firefighter and EMT with the department.

Inside the jam-packed library, volunteers greeted the public.

Volunteers Kayleigh Actis and her mother in law Sherri Acyis with Jasmine Beausoliel, Xavier Miranda and their 18 month old Ella. NRI NOW photo by Karen Iacobbo.

Robert Alves, who was a greeter at the front door of the library and volunteered as part of the Providence branch of AAA Northeast, said that “lots of children having a good time,” was, “wonderful.” Alves said he was enjoying meeting new people. 

Treats were offered from Dunkin Donuts of Pascoag and hot chocolate from Uncle Ronnie’s Red Tavern. Also available were holiday cards designed by students of the Austin T. Levy School, with proceeds benefitting Burrillville families in need this Christmas season. 

Paul Bisson with grandson Brooks, age 4 on his shoulders, with Karol Bisson. NRI NOW photo by Karen Iacobbo

Patient parents and grandparents stood in line with eager youngsters waiting for a favorite part of the season: to sit upon Santa’s lap to ask for specific Christmas presents. 

The line for a quick visit with Santa snaked around several aisles of book shelves.

Aliza Carpenter, age 6, sits with Santa. NRI NOW photo by Karen Iacobbo

Louise Moore looked on as her granddaughter Aliza Carpentier, 6, was visiting with the big elf himself. 

“It’s awesome,” Moore said of the holiday gathering. “Very well organized, fun festivities, and lots of music.”

Rosanna Campbell leads the BMS chorus. NRI NOW photo by Karen Iacobbo.

Youngsters and their families also waited to get a closer look at the young adults performing happy holiday music.

Rosanna Campbell was smiling while leading the Burrillville Middle School Chorus in the group’s rendition of favorite festive tunes. 

The Burrillville Middle School Chorus

In a side room of the library, elves Maryann Derestie, Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library children’s library assistant, and Rose Makin, reference assistant, had sweet treats ready for the youngsters. Young ones were decorating cookies, while others waited in line to meet Mrs. Claus. 

She gave each child a warm welcome. Mrs. Claus remarkably resembled actress Nancy Hopkins of Putnam, Conn., originally from Burrillville. 

Mrs Claus with Henry Makin, age 3, on her lap, and Charlotte Makin, age 2. NRI NOW photo by Karen Iacobbo.

“I think Mrs. Clause rocks,” said Sara Quinn, a mother who brought her three and a half year old, Elizabeth, to visit Mrs. Claus. 

Everything was, “going good,” said Carol Conway, administrative aide with the Burrillville Parks & Recreation Department. “People are having a good time.” 

“No crying yet,” Conway said and smiled as she looked around the room at apparently happy children. 

Not just a small number of children attended the festive gathering. More like 1,500 people attended this year’s event, said Burrillville Parks and Recreation Director Andrea Hall.

From left to right are Sarah Phillips and Richard Phillips with their 3-year-old twins.

“We couldn’t do this without Carol and all the volunteers including Sherri [Actis] and Kayleigh [Actis] and everyone,” Hall said, praising all the helpers. 

Something new this year was the Burrillville Redevelopment Agency’s giant light up outdoor Christmas ornament, said Hall, now located on the green of the Stillwater Mill Center, which looked like North Pole in northwest Rhode Island on Saturday.

Outside, Megan Cedar of Pascoag was getting her three young ones ready for their venture into the holiday-decorated library. 

“I love this event,” she said. “I’m so happy they do this every year.”

Travis-Dickey. Kate, age 8, and Brittany Lavery with daughter Lily, age 8. NRI NOW photo by Karen Iacobbo.
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