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11/17/2023 11:43 AM

Starlight Festival Returns Dec. 2

The third annual Old Saybrook Starlight Festival will be held. This year, the festivities are on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 2 to 6 p.m.

The Starlight Festival is a relatively new event in town – the first one was held in 2021. Organizers hope the day will continue to be an event that brings the whole community together. The event will largely take place on the Town Green, with family-friendly activities lasting until 5 p.m. A sample of some of the events that will take place during the day include Ms. Emily reading stories, face painting, a craft table, cookie sales, holiday cards for service members, wreaths, a life-size Candyland game, and, of course, free hot chocolate on the patio of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

“We have some new things this year. The life-size Candyland is back after a year off, and we revived the stocking walk and horse-drawn carriages by popular demand,” said Jennifer Donahue, the director of economic development and communications for the Town of Old Saybrook as well as one of the organizers of the event.

For those in the Christmas spirit, Santa will arrive by fire truck at 2:30 p.m. He will be stationed in front of the gazebo on the Town Green until 4:30 p.m., and volunteers will be on hand to take pictures of families with Santa.

In the event of inclement weather, the event will be moved indoors to Old Saybrook Middle School. Attendees can visit for a schedule or more information on events.

Donahue pointed out that the day will feature more than just events for kids. A press release for the event stated in part, “Many retail businesses on Main Street will be open till 6 p.m. for holiday shoppers, and a number of restaurants all over town will offer Starlight Specials ranging from military discounts to special cocktails to live entertainment.”

On a more serious note, The Blue Star Moms will be present with material so attendees can decorate holiday cards for service members who cannot be home for the holidays. Meanwhile, at 5 p.m., the Heroes Tree at The Kate will be lit by the Gold Star Moms in honor of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

For years, Old Saybrook residents would make a trip down to 122 College Street at Christmas time to see the impressive decorations put out by Joan Van Epps at her house. Sadly, Van Epps passed away two years ago, and her house has since been sold. However, her spirit lives on as her family donated lights and decorations to the town to be used in the Starlight Festival. The Holiday Inflatables Walk will feature inflatable characters donated by the Van Epps family from her collection.

“I’m really so excited we have such a good group of community volunteers and groups that have put a lot of work into this. I really think there’s something here for everyone, whether you have kids and want family activities or you’re interested in the shopping,” Donahue said.

The Starlight Festival was first held two years ago, and since then, the event has grown each tear.

“Even last year, when it rained on the event, the public still came out and had a good time. We’re really hoping for good weather this year,” Donahue said.

Donahue said the festival is just one of several events being held in town this holiday season that she hopes people will check out, including the Elf Hunt on Main Street from Sunday, Dec. 3 through Saturday, Dec. 9, and Festive Friday, Dec. 8, where businesses will be open until 9 p.m. with special offerings.