JUST Bob and Marla, Interactive Music and Puppetry. (Courtesy photo)
By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN
WOLFEBORO — Long known as a destination in warmer weather, this small town is leveraging the last day of the year to make a point: Wolfeboro is a great place to visit in the winter, too.
"Last Night in Wolfeboro" features events from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., mostly without charge, designed to give locals a chance to celebrate 2017 together and to draw families from around the state to see that Wolfeboro is just as charming in winter as it is in summer.
Wolfeboro has a long tradition of throwing a party on New Year's Eve. The town held 20 "First Night"-branded events from 1994 to 2014, then decided to break off from the licensing and other obligations associated with First Night. Wolfeboro planned its first Last Night for Dec. 31, 2016, and, said Christine Collins, director of the town's Parks and Recreation Department, organizers saw that they had a hit on their hands.
"The first year was successful. We did a couple of events and it was pretty well-attended, so we decided to do it another year. It seems like it's going to be an every year kind of thing," Collins said.
"Last Night in Wolfeboro" offers a day of events curated with families in mind. A scavenger hunt, which begins and ends at the town's Great Hall — located within Town Hall — runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Abenaki Ski Team will be selling concessions at the Great Hall from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Three family-friendly performances are scheduled to begin at 1:30, 3 and 3:30 p.m. in the Great Hall: Interactive music and puppetry, a magician, and a balloon artist. A bingo game, which was a favorite last year, will be held at the Great Hall beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Fireworks will be set off from Brewster Field at 6:30 p.m., followed by contra dancing — another favorite last year — at the Great Hall until 9 p.m.
With the exception of the concessions sales, all events are free of charge.
If you don't already have reservations for a table in one of the town's many restaurants, it might be too late. You won't go hungry, though, thanks to the All Saints Church, which is serving a lasagna dinner from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Adults can eat for $10, children under 5 eat for free, and a whole family fills up for $30.
Also open on Dec. 31 will be the town's cherished winter recreation facilities: ice skating at the Pop Whalen Ice Arena, downhill skiing at the Abenaki Ski Area, as well as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails.
Linda Murray, a member of the town's board of selectmen, said the town will spend a little more than $1,000 to put on the event, which is paid for by individual donations — look for collection jars at the events — and a gift from the Cate Memorial Fund. It's considerably less investment than was needed for the town's First Night ventures, and by going its own way, the town has succeeded in providing a small-town, family-friendly event.
"It is really family-focused," Murray said. "Events range from the scavenger hunt that the whole family gets behind, interactive puppetry that's more creative, then there's a magician, then a balloon man making different figures. People loved the bingo last year. It was very interesting. The lasagna dinner is new this year, that will benefit All Saints Church. The chamber (Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce) at 6:30 always puts on the fireworks, and then we end up with contra dancing which has been a big hit in town.
"A little bit of music, a little bit of magic, a little bit of puppetry."
There were between 200 and 300 people in attendance last year, and Murray hopes many more will find their way to her town on Dec. 31 this year.
"We're hoping to bring in not just Wolfeboro but from the surrounding towns and from across the state. Come in and check out Last Night Wolfeboro and our town."
Other ways to ring in 2018
Gunstock Mountain Resort is throwing a New Year's Eve bash. There will be a buffet dinner, music and other entertainment in the Main Lodge, s'mores around the campfire, tubing and mountain coaster rides, guided snowshoe hikes, a torchlight parade at 11:45 and fireworks at midnight. Visit gunstock.com for details.
The Flying Monkey Movie and Performance Center in Plymouth is bringing Roots of Creation on Dec. 31, whose latest project combines the band's love for Dub music with the music of the Greatful Dead. Visit flyingmonkeynh.com for details.
In Laconia, Pitman's Freight Room is welcoming the Racky Thomas Blues Band for a New Year's Eve gala featuring an hors d'oeuvres buffet and a champagne toast at midnight. Call 603-527-0043 to reserve a ticket.
The Whiskey Barrel, also in Laconia, is hosting country artists Jodie Cunningham and Rob Benton on New Year's Eve. Go to ticketfly.com for ticket information.
Contra Dancing in Wolfeboro’s Great Hall. (Photo courtesy of G.A.L.A.)
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