Christmas Village Turns 40

LACONIA — This evening, the Community Center will become another world, filled with the symbols and enlivened by the spirit of Christmas, when for the 40th year the Christmas Village opens its doors to young and old.

Begun in 1975 by Dick Tappley, then director of Parks and Recreation, who followed the example set by his father in Bristol, the tradition has been sustained ever since by the Bolduc brothers — Armand and Ernie — and their friend Bob Hamel, who each year have led the team of volunteers, including some 60 to 70 elves, that constructs the village and provides its hospitality.

It's a lot work," Hamel said. "But, it's all worth when you see those kids come through the curtain and their faces light up."

He estimates that some 6,000 man hours are required to set up and take down the village. In addition, decorating and stocking the village costs about $8,000 a year, a significant share of which is born by a number of anonymous donors as well as a contribution from the Children's Auction.
As children gather to wait their turn to enter the village, they are entertained with face painting, games, crafts, movies and even "Santa's Jail" under the watchful eyes longtime volunteer Sharon Cavanaugh and a band of sprightly elves.
Every child leaves laden with an ornament, turned from wood rescued from the Allen-Rogers factory, a Christmas gift, and personal letter from Santa, bearing the postmark "Christmas Village, Laconia N.H. 03246-1/2. Plus, gallons of pink lemonade and 600 dozen cookies are served at "Santa's Sidewalk Cafe."
Hamel estimated that some 2,500 children visit the Christmas Village each year.

"If you count the parents and senior citizens, nearly a quarter of a million people have passed through the village in the last 40 years," he said.
The Christmas Village will be open to the public Thursday, Dec. 3, and Friday, Dec. 4, from 6 until 8 p.m.; and on Saturday, Dec. 5, and Sunday Dec. 6, from 2 until 5 p.m. The village will be open to senior citizens on Saturday between 10 a.m. and noon, and to those with disabilities on Sunday between 10 a.m. and noon.

Lakes Region towns are ready to celebrate Christmas

MEREDITH — The Christmas season is getting underway with many events around the Lakes Region.

In Meredith, horse-drawn carriage rides and a Village tree lighting will highlight "Christmas in the Village" events planned on Sunday, Dec. 6. Main Street will glow with luminarias placed along the sidewalks, and the Greater Meredith Program in partnership with the Mill Falls Marketplace will offer horse-drawn carriage and wagon rides through the village from 1 to 5 p.m.
There will be an open house sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department at the Community Center from 2 to 4 p.m., and at 4:30 p.m. the Kinder Choir will be singing holiday carols preceding the tree lighting at Community Park on Main Street.
Live music and finger foods will be offered during a special sparkling wine tasting at Hermit Woods from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Main Street and Santa will arrive at Hesky Park aboard one of the town's big fire trucks shortly after 5 p.m. for a tree-lighting ceremony at the town docks.

Plymouth
Plymouth's Hometown Holiday celebration and parade is coming up on Saturday, Dec. 5, starting with a special showing of the classic film "Home Alone" from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the Flying Monkey. Proceeds will benefit Toys for Tots in conjunction with Plymouth Operation Santa Claus and Plymouth Rotary.
On Main Street, people can enjoy a Christmas music sing-along with Tim Keefe, decorate cookies with the elves on the common, soak in some Christmas atmosphere and enjoy free hot chocolate at the banks on Main Street.
The parade starts promptly at 5 p.m. Saturday.
On Sunday, youngsters can skate for free with Santa at the Plymouth State University ice arena from 1 to 3 p.m. In the upstairs Welcome Center of the ice arena, catch a half-hour performance of "A Nutcracker Sampler." This special performance by the Ninth State Dance Studio youths is a light-hearted show created especially for little ones to introduce them to the delights of "The Nutcracker." Show times are 1:15 and 2:30 p.m. This event is free, but you must have a ticket. Get printable tickets at www.theninthstate.com.

Belmont
In Belmont, a holiday celebration will be held on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Belmont Middle School gym on School St. so that everyone stays warm no matter the December weather.
There will be Christmas favorites by the Rockin' Daddios, followed by the Belmont High School Concert Band. As they perform on the stage, children will be entertained with various craft and coloring tables set up around the room.
Santa will make an appearance later in the program. Participants can bring an unwrapped toy to be donated to the Belmont Police Department's Santa's Little Helpers.

Gilford
In Gilford a Holiday Craft Fair runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gilford Middle and High School with over 130 craftspeople taking part. Proceeds will benefit the Gilford High School yearbook and the 2016 class trip.

Gilford selectboard rejects agritourism for technical reasons

GILFORD – Selectmen rejected a proposed warrant article that would add agritourism to the town zoning ordinance last night after telling lead petitioner Andy Howe there were two clerical errors that made it impossible for them to accept.

Initially, said Town Administrator Scott Dunn, there is no provision for an "emergency" town meeting for a petitioned warrant article regarding zoning. Secondly, he said the warrant article should have been written to reference New Hampshire State Law RSA 21:34-a:vi, which is the state definition of agritourism.

Howe attended Wednesday's meeting and said he understood and would be submitting a similar warrant article before the deadline of Dec. 7 and could only be considered at the March annual Town Meeting.

Howe's intent is to amend the Gilford Zoning Ordinances to added a definition of agriculture and a definition of agritourism – as defined by RSA 21:31-a:vi – so that agritourism, like agriculture, can be permitted by right in all zones.

Howe and his family own Timber Hill Farm, which has been in the eye of a local hurricane regarding agritourism, farm-to-table events like weddings, and the future of his 250-acre farm on Gunstock Hill Road in the single-family residential zone.

His neighbor opposes his proposal because she believes the noise from weddings and other like events would disrupt the quality of her life and devalue her property.

Both sides are represented by counsel in what has become an prolonged and acrimonious battle that has the town's Zoning Board of Adjustment and the town's Planning Board each seeking the advice of their own counsel. Though farm-to-table activities were ordered stopped by the town code enforcement officer, the Zoning Board has twice voted not to uphold the order.

Right now, the definition of agriculture in Gilford is found under ordinance 4.7.1 titled Open Spaces and allows for "orchard, vegetable, garden, nursery, daily farm, commercial animals, poultry, live stock or other commercial activity. Home farming is allowed in all zones."

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