Friday, December 7, 2007

The Holiday Spirit

We hadn't been out after work pretty much all week, so we decided we'd indulge one of my favorite past-times; Northampton, for some coffee and a walk about, and maybe a little bit of people-watching.

Driving up, we went through South Hadley, where we saw a big crowd forming on the common in front of Mt. Holyoke College. Cars were backed up, and even more people were streaming in along the sidewalks from all around.

Obviously, something was up, and we decided to check it out. We found a "parking spot" to squeeze into, behind the Village Common Shops. From there we followed the streaming groups of people hurrying up the steps and through the shops to the common. As we approached the common we could hear drums and horns, getting closer. Everyone's pace increased slightly.

I checked my camera as we hurried along, making sure it was locked and loaded. Blog fodder was in the air. We found a spot on the sidewalk at the common, and waited among the crowd. Several other people had their video cameras already aimed up the road in anticipation. In a moment, the drumbeats and horns became very loud, and a short but enthusiastic parade came marching up and by.

(night pictures = long shutter times)...

Well that was nice, I thought. So this is what South Hadley people do, have spontaneous parades in the dark. Interesting. But, as the parade moved past, the mob began to crowd closer to the street. I raised my head above the throng to get a glimpse of what this was all about.

And then I saw the reason for all the hub-bub; Aah, it wasn't a parade at all, it was an escort! Bringing up the rear, strobe lights a' flashing, was Jolly St. Nick himself! (The sleigh must be in the shop getting tuned for the big night, because tonight, he was sporting a quad ATV)

He parked and dismounted, among a torrent of cheers and the calls from delighted kids. The crowd parted for him as he made his way to the gazebo in the middle of the common, waving broadly at everyone along the way.

Santa Claus. Superstar.

He sat down on a chair made ready for him, aided by his entourage, and encircled by the parentarazzi, cameras blazing.

Within minutes, the scene had settled somewhat, and a chorus of middle-schoolers standing behind him began some beautiful caroling.

Kelly observed (in her special way) that I was probably the only one there jockeying for a camera angle that didn't have a kid in that chorus, so I wrapped it up and got out of the way.

It was nice of Santa to take the time to make a stop here, during surely his busiest time of year...

Onward, Dasher...

With that holiday fix, we continued on up to Northampton and the coffee. Northampton has their own holiday spirit going on, as only they could have. Deep in the belly of the terrible Abominable Snowman, Jesus is busy hawking bath products...

Which begs the question, what would Jesus exfoliate with?

Thornes, across the street, went a little more traditional.

We continued around, and did a loop along the back neighborhoods, and finally back up State St. to Main. We passed two long-standing businesses along the way, with their neon signs aglow;

Serios Drug Store...

and the State St. Fruit Store.

We finished our coffees and headed back home, observing all the many Christmas lights, adorning so many houses along the way.


Mary E.Carey said...

We must have pulled up to South Hadley soon after you left, because there were still throngs of kids around, and we couldn't figure out why. Brian surmised that they just hang around the Village Commons instead of a mall or somewhere else. You got some great night shots. What's not to like about Jesus and bath products?

kid said...

nice post