Take a break from all that hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and check out some of the many family-friendly activities around Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts. Below is our list of the best local holiday activities occurring throughout the month of December.
A Christmas classic
A Christmas Carol is an annual tradition at Trinity Repertory in Providence that has been a holiday favorite for 38 consecutive years. Each year, Trinity Rep performs Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of forgiveness and compassion throughout the months of November and December. To purchase tickets for this family-friendly performance, visit Trinity Rep’s website.
Bristol’s Christmas Festival
“America’s Most Patriotic Town” can also throw a fantastic holiday celebration. This year, the 27th Annual Bristol Christmas Festival is chock full of activities from Breakfast with Santa and concerts to the main event: the Grand Illumination. Check out their schedule of events on their website.
Wild holiday displays at Coventry home
Each year, The Crazy Christmas House and the Conway Christmas Lights Extravaganza in Coventry put on an incredible lights display that raises money for selected charities. This year, they are teaming up to put on a display with over 100,000 dancing lights and 65 homemade cutout characters. All proceeds raised from the display will go to The Tomorrow Fund and there will be three nights of collecting donations to benefit the Coventry Food Bank. The display begins Thanksgiving night at 7pm and goes until Christmas night. The display is located at 265 Maple Valley Road in Coventry and the hours can be seen on their website.
Narragansett’s Festival of Lights
Narragansett’s annual Festival of Lights Celebration is popular in South County and for good reason: this all-day celebration features attractions for all ages from trolley rides and meeting Santa to a tree lighting and firework display. Guests can grab a cup of hot chocolate and take a horse drawn wagon ride or catch a presentation of “A Christmas Carol” in the library. For a complete schedule of events visit their website.
Take a trip to the North Pole
Based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book (the author happens to be visiting Woonsocket this month!) this magical train ride on the Providence and Worcester line travels 45 minutes to the “North Pole” in Millbury and back. Guests of all ages can participate in sing-a-longs and sip hot chocolate and eat cookies. Tickets can be purchased on the Polar Express website.
Newport’s month-long celebration
Christmas in Newport has been an annual tradition since 1971. The celebration goes throughout the month of December with a variety of activities each day including walking tours, concerts, shops and contests. A full list of events is available on the 44th annual Christmas in Newport website.
La Salette’s Holiday Lights Display
One of the most well known holiday attractions in Southern New England is the Holiday Lights Display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, MA. The yearly lights display features 300,000 lights over 10 acres. The event is free to the public (with donations appreciated) and runs until January 4th from 5-9pm daily. For more information on their holiday festivities–including tips on beating the traffic—visit their website.
The South County 12 Meter Regatta is finally here. On Thursday, June 21, former America’s Cup winners and contenders will race off Narragansett Pier in an event celebrating RI’s storied yacht-racing past. This is the first ever 12 meter yacht race to take place in Narragansett, so we are especially excited. This day-long festival (12-8 PM) is free, and is the perfect kick-off to the international racing that begins on June 26, when Newport hosts Rhode Island’s first America’s Cup event since 1983.
Six classic and traditional yachts will compete: American Eagle, Weatherly, Columbia, Intrepid, Nerfertiti, and Northern Light. These boats have some pretty interesting history.
Although the American Eagle never won the big race, she did win the first World Ocean Racing Championship in 1969 when—fun fact—she was owned and commanded by businessman Ted Turner, the founder of CNN.
Weatherly won the America’s Cup in 1962, and is the only boat in history to win without being newly built for the competition. According to the event website, she was a favorite of President and Mrs. Kennedy, who closely followed that year’s Twelve Meter racing season from their summer home at Hammersmith Farm in Newport.
Columbia was the winner of the first 12 Meter America’s Cup in 1958, and Intrepid won twice: 1967 and 1970. Nefertiti was designed by Yachtsman and Naval Architect Ted Hood, who won the America’s Cup in 1974 while skippering the yacht Courageous, and Northern Light was the trial horse for three of the America’s Cup defenses.
A historical collection of photographs, memorabilia and artifacts will be displayed during the event, and a reception will be held at the Towers, where local food vendors and music will be posted outside. The regatta may be viewed from Ocean Road, the Narragansett seawall, Veterans and Gazebo Park, and the Narragansett Town Beach.
Our Cumberland office recently underwent a service upgrade for internet. In the process of this effort, we’ve discovered that the house (that is our office) was formerly the home of Ray Mullin, owner of Ray Mullin Music. His popular store was founded in 1929 and originally headquartered in Pawtucket next to the LeRoy Theater. In fact, there was a tunnel between the theater and the music store, so when big acts performed, they could sneak out through this passage. Sandy Soares got her first guitar (a Les Paul) from Ray Mullins and Debby Smith used to babysit his grandchildren. Today, both the Pawtucket store and the LeRoy Theater are gone; the Company has relocated to Swansea.
This got us thinking. Time works differently in Rhode Island. Instead of living by that clock thing hanging on the wall, nostalgia seems to be the dominant rhythm of life here. While new construction may change the terrain, the Rhode Island conscious is embedded in the past. Just ask a true Rhode Islander for directions. Instead of street names, they will most likely be given by landmark. And usually this landmark will be outdated, like where the old I-195 used to be. With this trait in mind, we’ve created a list of some famous Rhode Island Used-To-Be’s that are important to our culture.
If you live in the Ocean State and are over the age of 20, there’s a really good chance you have some childhood memory of Rocky Point Amusement Park. This Warwick Park, established in 1847, grew quickly in popularity, and from the 1850’s through the 1980’s it was the most popular attraction in New England. Tom Flanagan remembers spending Saturdays there, full of laughter and cotton candy. The park closed in 1995 and was demolished in 2007. The town of Warwick is currently looking to make the land into a public park.
Much like Rocky Point, Crescent Park in East Providence (named for the crescent shape of the Riverside beach) was renowned in its time. Founded in 1886 by George Boyden, the venue was known as the “Coney Island of the East”, with hot air balloons and extravagant carousels providing the Park’s main attractions. Tom Flanagan also remembers the delicious candy apples he enjoyed here (there is a theme here with Tom about amusement venues). The park closed in 1979, and the surrounding area was developed. The only remnant of these sweet roots is the Crescent Park Carousel, which remains open to this day.
Today, The Towers set the backdrop to the Narragansett social scene, but they once provided entrance to the Narragansett Pier Casino, another source of turn-of-the-century entertainment. The Casino was completed in 1886 and provided a refuge for the areas social elite, offering a variety of recreational opportunities, such as boating, tennis, billiards, bowling, cards, and shooting. The venue also had restaurants, stores, reading rooms, a theater, a bandstand, a ballroom, and a beautiful beach. While Residential Properties Ltd. has been around for a long time (this year is our 30th anniversery!), none of us were there to enjoy the pleasures of The Casino, since the building burned down in 1900. However, locals like Anita Langer cherish The Towers for uniting a community with their granite walls.
Our final used to be is much less romantic, but is a part of Rhode Island history none-the-less. In the 1980s, Providence was included in the Guinness Book of World Record for holding the distinction of World’s Widest Bridge. Known as the Crawford Street Bridge at 1,147 feet, the structure grew when several normal sized bridges were covered with decking and turned into a parking lot. Oh yeah, this monstrosity was located across the Providence River. Ed Hardy remembers thinking this bridge was gross in his youth. This monstrosity has since been dismantled; the river has been moved; Waterfire caldrons line the center of where the bridge was; and the whole transformation turned the area into an asthetically pleasing area. While this demolition was integral in developing our Capital Center, we just couldn’t let you erase this Used-To-Be from your memory. So, remember, you can get to the downtown area from the East Side by crossing over the river where the world’s widest bridge was.
Admittedly, we’ve left out numerous landmarks that could be used for directions, so you can expect another Used-To-Be compilation in the near future.