Norwich Winterfest activities start Dec. 1
Norwich — The holiday calendar might seem a bit topsy-turvy this year, with Thanksgiving coming early and the two big annual Norwich Winterfest events switching positions.
In most years, holiday festivities kick off with the annual Light up City Hall festival on a Friday night followed by the annual Winterfest Parade through downtown streets that weekend.
But since Light up City Hall now is pegged to accompany First Friday art gallery openings and shows at downtown theaters, that event will come a full week after the 31st annual Winterfest Parade.
Events start on Saturday, Dec. 1, with the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s Norwich Winterfest 5K race to benefit Reliance Health. The foundation’s FitKids Run will start at 10:30 a.m. and the 5K at 11 a.m., with racers departing from Norwich Free Academy and running along Norwich streets.
After the race, the parade will step off at 1 p.m. in downtown Norwich, with the theme “Vintage Christmas,” but with some distinct changes. The route has been changed to keep activities centered in downtown to reduce the number and extent of street closings and to promote downtown revitalization, Norwich Events Organization Chairman Jake Manke said.
The new route now will be the same as the Norwich St. Patrick’s Parade. The parade will begin near Otis Library on Main Street and turn right onto Franklin Street, left onto Willow Street, left onto Chestnut Street, left onto Broadway and right back onto Main Street.
H. Tucker Braddock, former parade chairman and former Norwich alderman, will be the grand marshal. He took over the parade after the unexpected and sudden death of former chairman David Wigfield in February 2016. The judges this year will look a bit different, too, Manke said, as the committee solicited applications from local youths to judge both the parade participants and the downtown Norwich storefront decorating contest.
The parade is organized and funded by Norwich Events Organization and is funded through local individual and business donations and sponsorships and does not receive funding from any governmental agency.
The 27th annual Light Up City Hall will be held on First Friday, Dec. 7, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The free event, held on the plaza in front of City Hall, will feature a live broadcast by Pebbles Jammin 107.7 FM and children’s entertainment, including a puppet show, balloon animal creations by “Stilts” and the Mohegan Sun Carolers. Santa will arrive on a firetruck to lead the countdown to turn on City Hall lights. Norwich Public Utilities will sponsor photos with Santa.
First Friday arts events will continue throughout downtown after the lighting.
City Hall and Leffingwell House Museum wooden Christmas ornaments will be sold at the event for $10. The collectible ornaments were created by The Cat’s Meow Village and will be on sale at the city clerk’s office as well as the William W. Backus Hospital Gift Shop and the Leffingwell House Museum.
For more information, contact the Norwich city manager’s office at (860) 823-3750 or the city clerk’s office at (860) 823-3732.