CHATHAM – Folks will be celebrating Christmas By The Sea this weekend as the Chatham Merchants Association sponsors its annual holiday stroll.
Events kick off Friday with a light parade and lighting of the town tree and continue all weekend long with activities, including a newly improved scavenger hunt, and open houses in many local shops. Christmas By The Sea has been a mainstay of the town's holiday season, and nobody's tinkering with a formula that has worked for 40 years.
“We are doing pretty much the same thing, just trying to improve on the standard holiday events,” said Jenn Allard, who is overseeing the event for the merchants association. “The town's looking festive.”
This is the second year the tree lighting will be held in Kate Gould Park at 6 p.m., where local businesses have decorated small Christmas trees leading down the path to the main town tree.
“We had room for a lot more people,” Allard said, compared with the previous tree lighting location at Sears Park. More people also participated in the light parade, which begins at Carmine's Pizza (across from Sears Park) at 5:45 p.m., and marches up Main Street to Kate Gould Park. Santa will also be at the Whit Tileston Band Stand in the park. “It's a nice environment for families to be right downtown,” Allard said.
Between 6 and 9 p.m. businesses will hold open houses with refreshments, special sales and raffles, while carolers, musicians and popular characters perform along Main Street. Horse and carriage rides will be available at Main and Cross streets.
Saturday's festivities begin at 8 a.m. with Breakfast with Santa at the Wayside Inn, an event that often sells out; visit www.chathamchristmasbythesea.com for ticket information.
The annual Cookie Express at the First Congregational Church also opens at 8 a.m. Get there early for the best selection; the cookies tend to go fast.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be a new and improved Scavenger Hunt, Allard said. Scavenger Hunt booklets are available at Santa's Workshop (the downtown information booth) and in stores. Complete the booklet and register to win prizes donated by local merchants.
“We're going to make it a little bit more structured,” Allard said of this year's Scavenger Hunt, which will be expanded to include businesses and locations not just in downtown but throughout the community.
Throughout the day there will be carolers, musicians and entertainers circulating around town. From 3 to 6 p.m. the “Holly Trolley” will be running, providing free rides with holiday characters providing on-board entertainment.
Santa will be at his workshop (the information booth) during the afternoon, and open houses, raffles and special events, including book signings, will continue throughout the day. And if you're looking for a unique Chatham gift, check out the 2018 Chatham Stroll hats, available for $20 at shops downtown or through the Christmas By The Sea website.
For a change of pace, kids can have “Grub with the Grinch” at the Chatham Historical Society's Atwood House and Museum on Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. The Grinch himself will read a story and have breakfast featuring holiday and Grinch-themed foods. Cost is $10 for kids, $15 for adults. Tickets are available at chathamhistoricalsociety.org.
The historical society will also sponsor its annual Hearthwarming at the Old Atwood House on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. Santa will be available for photo ops, and there will be cider and cookies for all to enjoy, along with Ryder Martin's spectacular train display, featuring holiday scenes and models of famous Chatham buildings.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children, and museum members are free. The Atwood House and Museum is located at 347 Stage Harbor Rd.
Get a head start on things Thursday, Dec. 6, by checking in with Santa at Christmas Joy in South Chatham from 4 to 4 p.m.
Other upcoming holiday events include the First Congregational Church's annual Chatham Christmas Concert on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Admission is $20, children are free. Chatham Squire annual Children's Christmas party on Sunday, Dec. 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the downtown restaurant. Every child will receive a gift from Santa, and there will be plenty of Squire-baked refreshments.
For a detailed schedule, visit www.chathamchristmasbythesea.com
Christmas By The Sea
Friday, Dec. 7, tree lighting, 6 p.m. Kate Gould Park; downtown stroll 6-9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 8, Scavenger Hunt, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; downtown stroll, noon-6 p.m.