GILFORD – Over 1,000 lit candles will line Belknap Mountain Road in Gilford Village as guests are welcomed to the festivities scheduled for this year's Candlelight Stroll, which will be held in Gilford Village on December 14 from 5–7 p.m. The event is open to the public and all activities are free. The inclement weather date is Saturday, December 21, from 5-7 p.m.
Planning for this year's event immediately began after last year's highly successful stroll, which was part of Gilford's bicentennial celebration in 2012. After the bicentennial drew to a close, many residents hoped that the stroll would become an annual event. Consequently, a formal Candlelight Stroll committee was formed in January of this year. Members immediately began seeking sponsors for the event and were successful in finding numerous real estate agents, local businesses, and town departments that were willing to donate.
The committee picked a country theme for the event to honor the town's history of farming. In keeping with the theme, the committee decided to dedicate the 2013 stroll to Pete LaBonte and Ben Weeks. Both were long-time town employees and both men passed away earlier this year. Pete and Ben grew up during the town's farming era and remained dedicated to keeping the memory of it alive. Gilford Public Library will have displays created by the LaBonte and Weeks families for all to enjoy that evening.
The Thompson-Ames Historical Society will have all three of its historical buildings open. Jane Ellis plans to perform at the Mt. Belknap Grange while holiday cookies are baked in the oven. The Union Meetinghouse will provide the setting for Bonnie Deutsch & The Line Dancers, followed by Jeff Warner and his musical program, "Family Fun in Folk Music". Holiday decorations will adorn the Benjamin Rowe house for the holiday season, and old-time wooden toys are to be demonstrated.
Visitors can take Heritage Farm's horse-drawn wagon rides through the village. A number of residents plan to open their homes to visitors including some of last year's favorites, Dr. Kelley White's historic home and the Bickford/Snow house where Sally and Bill Bickford will be serving soup and chowder.
Be sure to stop by the library and make a holiday ornament or visit Norm Soucy at his Gilford Village Store. Gilford Fire-Rescue will be tending to a bonfire in the vicinity of the bandstand where Santa will greet children of all ages. Guests can roast marshmallows or create their own S'mores by the warmth of the fire. Members of Gilford's police department and Gilford's K-9 Unit, Officer VanSteensburg and Ike, will be on hand to answer questions.
The full program of programs and events will be posted on the website of Gilford Public Library at www.gilfordlibrary.org.