PAWTUCKET — Winter Wonderland, always a special event in the city, will have even greater meaning this year with the addition of a “9/11” tree in Slater Park.
New to the festival will be a special tree, decorated with red, white and blue lights, that will be dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The tree will feature a large, lighted star that was made by Robert Machowski, Jr.
There will be a dedication ceremony for the 9/11 tree on Saturday, Dec. 3 at noon. The tree is located in front of the entertainment tent. Mayor Donald Grebien, Fire Chief William Sisson, a representative from the Police Department and other city officials and local dignitaries will be in attendance.
Winter Wonderland Committee member Sharon Lund, who suggested the idea for the 9/11 tree, will place the first ornament on the tree to honor her family members who are in the U.S. Marine Corps, and ornaments representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard will be added by other Winter Wonderland Committee members. A police officers' ornament will be placed on the tree by Beverly Bucka and a firefighters' ornament will be added by Dawn Goff. Members of the public are also invited to add their own ornaments honoring local heroes.
Later that day, the 13th annual Winter Wonderland festival will kick off at 3:30 p.m. Santa Claus will be making a grand entrance to Slater Park on a fire truck, escorted by a parade of local dancers, entertainers and costumed characters.
Santa will be welcomed at the historic Looff Carousel by two of his elves along with Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, Winter Wonderland Committee vice president Dawn Goff, and WJAR TV meteorologist Kelly Bates, who is the official 2011 “Winter Wonderland Weather Woman.” Then, the switch will be turned on to illuminate the 425 decorated trees, old-time wooden village, and other holiday decorations that make up the colorful event.
The Winter Wonderland festival will take place on the weekends of December 3 and 4 and December 10 and 11 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. A heated entertainment tent will feature performers from local school groups, dance studios, choral groups, bell ringers, and other musicians. There will also be hay rides, face painting, children's crafts, Frosty the giant “talking” snowman, and 25 cent rides on the historic Looff Carousel. Food and beverages will also be available for purchase.
Of course, there is also the opportunity to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Photos with Santa will be available for purchase from Muggles Photography. Additionally, the historic Daggett House will be decorated for the season and open for tours, and the Rhode Island Watercolor Society will have paintings on display in its gallery.
The Winter Wonderland festival is a non-profit organization run by volunteers in conjunction with the city of Pawtucket. Admission to Slater Park is free and parking is also free in designated areas.
For directions or additional information, call 401-726-3185 or visit the web site at www.winterwonderlandpawtucket.com .