Fall River’s Kennedy Park transforms into Winter Wonderland Dec. 4

Nov 22, 2022 | Arts & Culture, Community, Press

FALL RIVER — One local nonprofit is cranking up the Christmas cheer with a series of events making for a month-long holiday celebration in the Spindle City.

The magic happens at Kennedy Park, where the first-ever Winter Wonderland Festival of Lights will kick off on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 5 p.m.

Locals are invited to walk the park decked in lights and eye-catching decor, while taking in the festive sights, tunes, and sipping on some hot cocoa.

Presented by Creative Community Vision, the festival debut will cap a December weekend chock full of activities, and serves as the perfect complement to the popular Children’s Holiday Parade on Saturday, Dec. 3.

“We decided the community needed some uplifting for the holidays so we decided to light up Kennedy Park and do a few nights of entertainment,” said Roxanne Longstone, CCV board member who has taken the lead in organizing the event.The Dec. 4 kickoff event will be followed by two others at Kennedy Park, each with its own special activities and visitors.

On Saturday, Dec. 10, the Grinch will headline a night of fun from 4 to 8 p.m. And lastly on Saturday, Dec. 17, Santa and Mrs. Claus will make an early stop in the city (from 6 to 8 p.m.), greeting guests both naughty and nice in the Kennedy Park pavilion.

Another highlight of the Dec. 17 festival, Longstone said, will be an area where kids can do some low-cost holiday shopping for their families.

Attendees will also enjoy live music, dance performances, shopping local artisans and vendors, children’s crafts, face painting, and complimentary hot chocolate, cookies and popcorn will be served.

According to Longstone, this festival has been a long time in the making. In October 2021, the nonprofit held its first event, Boo at the Beach — moved from the Fall River Family Picnic Grove to city hall due to rain — and that ignited the spark to find other ways to bring the city together.

Over the past year, Longstone and the CCV team have devoted their time to bringing their vision of a winter celebration to life.

“It’s not going to be huge but it’ll be beautiful,” Longstone said.

Longstone set the scene for this upcoming Winter Wonderland: Trees will be illuminated throughout December, the park grounds will be decked in large, festive props and decorations, and giant snowflakes will be placed throughout the park featuring the names of sponsors who helped make the event happen.

Sponsors include Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan, the City Council, various local businesses, as well as Amazon, Home Depot and Dave Mello from M&M Movers.

All events will also feature four large selfie stations — one in the shape of a snow globe, one a Christmas wreath, as well as a snowflake arch and a picture frame — custom-built by students at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School, where visitors can pose for holiday photos.

Longstone, who in her spare time is a woodworker whose creations can be found at RL Designs on Facebook, even hand-crafted many of the wooden props that will be on display, including the Grinch, Frosty the Snowman, candy canes and more.

While the event is already slowly taking shape at Kennedy Park, with lights being strung over the past couple of weeks, Longstone said much of the decor is being kept under wraps until the day of the event.

“I want this all to be a surprise to the community,” Longstone said. “I think the city is going to love it.”

Longstone, who like many has fond memories of winters spent skating and attending festivities at Kennedy Park, hopes this festival helps add life to the beloved city spot. And she’s hoping the Festival of Lights will one day become an annual city tradition, with the intention of adding to it with each new year. “I would love to see this like a mini LaSalette,” Longstone said.

Looking for ways to help this holiday season? Consider pitching in as a Winter Wonderland volunteer. The festival crew is about 12 people strong, but additional hands are welcome to set up each wintry scene. Call Longstone at 774-526-7023 if interested.