News Feature

Stonington
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, January 27, 2022
Scaled-down Winterfest a success, says HIP director
Hundreds attend all-outdoor event

Fire pit

Fire pits sponsored by the Island Rec Board were handy for toasting hotdogs and marshmallows.

Photo courtesy of Dan Rajter

by Leslie Landrigan

At least 300 people attended a mini-version of Winterfest held outside the Island Community Center on Saturday, January 22.

The annual free event, sponsored by the Healthy Island Project, featured fireworks, two fire pits, a disc jockey and food and drink.

“It was a really enjoyable, enjoyable evening,” said René Colson Hudson, HIP executive director, in a phone interview. “Everyone who came out was so grateful to have fun and see people they hadn’t seen in a while.”

Hudson said that the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the usual indoor activities like serving food and giving health screenings.

Last year, the pandemic led HIP to cancel Winterfest for the first time since it started in 2006.

“After Delta and Omicron, we decided we couldn’t do anything indoors,” Hudson said. “But we felt as a community we needed some joy and some fun.”

Three local restaurants—Fin & Fern, Aragosta and Acadia House Provisions—made cookies. HIP board member and chef Roger Olsen made a vegetarian chili, and the Island Recreation Board supplied hot dogs, marshmallows and hot cocoa.

Disc jockey Gary Milliken came from Blue Hill to play some music. Stonington Public Library Director Chris Ross did a walkabout story reading, and Linda Shepard gave out free books from Community Adult Education.

Fireworks attracted all ages, said Hudson.

“It was a great success,” she said.

Food bags

Bags of food stand ready to be claimed at the January 22 Winterfest. Also served were hot chocolate and Chai Walla hot chai.

Photo courtesy of Dan Rajter
Fire pit

Fire pits sponsored by the Island Rec Board were handy for toasting hotdogs and marshmallows.

Photo courtesy of Dan Rajter
Servers

Chefs Roger Olsen and Will Ternay dish up vegetarian chili.

Photo courtesy of Dan Rajter
Fireworks

Spectacular!

Photo courtesy of Dan Rajter