CHATHAM – The town Christmas tree at Sears Park will light up Friday evening to kick off the 38th annual Christmas by the Sea celebration.
This marks the 38th annual holiday celebration sponsored by the Chatham Merchants Association.
“It's older than I am!” said merchants president Rebecca Voelkel.
There are two new elements added to the festivities this year. The first commemorative “Chatham Christmas Stroll” hats are now on sale for $20.
“We're hoping to start a new holiday tradition,” said Voelkel. The hats, which have “Chatham” and “2016” stitched into them, are “nice, cozy, classic puffy hats,” she said, and each year the CMA plans to sell new versions. They went on sale last Saturday and are “selling fast,” she said. As of Monday the Chatham Orpheum Theater, which is hosting Christmas by the Sea headquarters this year, had sold about 15 hats. “Most of our staff bought them!” said Director Kevin McLain.
The hats are available for sale at the Orpheum, the Mayflower Shop, Mahi Gold, Chatham Cookware and Chatham Threadworks.
This year's other new event is a Wreath Savanger Hunt. Similar to the scavenger hunts the CMA sponsors in the summer (“Ships in the Shops” was this year's), participants try to find 24 wreaths displayed in shops throughout town and record their location in a booklet. Completed scavenger hunt booklets are then entered in a raffle for a Chatham gift basket.
Scavenger hunt booklets are available at Ducks in the Window, the Orpheum, Mahi Gold, and the Mayflower Shop.
This year the CMA has also brought back the Yule Bowl, which is awarded to the town's most festively decorated business.
“Retailers do such a great job decorating windows. I love how festive Main Street looks,” said Voelkel. This year's winner will receive a complimentary CMA membership for next year. Merchants have also decorated mini-Christmas trees up and down Main Street as well as in Kate Gould Park.
Friday's tree lighting begins with a gathering at the community center at 5:45 for the light parade down Main Street to Sears Park, at the corner of Main and Seaview streets, where the town Christmas tree will be illuminated in a ceremony that begins at 6 p.m. The Monomoy school choir will perform along with carolers, a brass band and holiday characters, including Buddy the Elf from the film “Elf.”
Immediately following Main Street will be the site of the Christmas by the Sea stroll, with trolly rides, open houses, carolers and other events. Santa's Workshop, located at the chamber's downtown information booth, will be open from 6 to 8 p.m., with Santa on hand to take Christmas wishes.
On Friday night and throughout the weekend shops all around town will be holding raffles and open houses and serving holiday cookies and other goodies. For a full list, see the schedule in this paper or visit chathamchristmasbythesea.com. Most shops are open until 9 p.m.
The entertainers will be on Main Street again Saturday to welcome shoppers downtown, said Voelkel.
Special events include the First Congregational Church's annual Cookie Express on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon, or until the cookies are sold out. A long community tradition, the sale features dozens and dozens of holiday cookies backed by members of the church; visit chathamcongregational.org for more information.
The Chatham Candy Manor will host free candy cane making demonstrations at 11 a.m. Saturday and again at 11 a.m. on Dec. 17.
The Atwood House Museum will host its annual Hearthwarming Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. The old Atwood House will be warmed by an old-fashioned, cozy kitchen hearth fire, and children can have their photos taken with Santa. Kids will also enjoy Ryder Martin's “Festival of Trains” display, and the museum gift shop will be open. Admission is free.
The Chatham Marconi Maritime Center's 102-year-old “Hotel Nautilus” will be decked out for the season – as it would have been in 1915 – and open to the public on Friday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Volunteers have imagined what the hotel, which housed employees of the wireless radio station at the site, would have looked like in that period. As World War I raged in Europe in 1915, Guglielmo Marcon's American company was prevented from using the station and instead operated the building as a summer resort.
The Marconi-RCA Wireless Museum will be open over the weekend, with Saturday hours 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., offering free admission to both the hotel and the museum. On Saturday, the hotel will be open only for the historic inn and museum tour.
Sponsored by the chamber and the Chatham Lodging Association, the day-long tour on Saturday will feature five historic inns and two museums – the Atwood House and Marconi “Hotel Nautilus” – all of which will be open to ticket holders from 1 to 4 p.m. All will be decorated for the holidays. Tickets are $20 and are available at the chamber's Captain Bassett House Visitor Center, Puritan Clothing, Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank Chatham branch, Rockland Trust Chatham branch, and at participating inns and museums.
Sign up ahead of time for Story Time with Santa on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 10:30 a.m. at the Chatham Shark Center at 235 Orleans Rd. The cost is $10 per person, and all children and adults must have tickets. Tickets are available through the chathamchristmasbythesea.com website under the Story Time tab. Saturday's Story Time With Buddy The Elf at the Chatham Inn at 359 Main is sold out; secure a spot on the waiting list at the same website.
Saturday's Breakfast with Santa at the Wayside Inn is also sold out. Visit the same website to get on the waiting list. Even with an increase in seating, the Santa Breakfast “sold out the first day,” Voelkel said.