2002 Winter Season

Litchfield, CT -- Contact: Janet L. Serra For Immediate Release 860-567-4506 lhcvbnwct@aol.com You might find him pulling the switch to light a Christmas tree, standing with the kids watching toy trains whiz by, checking a wish list for an eager youngster or posing for pictures with the family. No matter where you go in the Litchfield Hills in December, you're likely to run into a certain jolly fellow with a red suit and a white beard. It's no wonder that Santa likes to hang around this beautiful corner of Northwest Connecticut, for there's no more joyful place for families during the holidays. Follow Santa's chubby footsteps to find the fun, from a giant display of toy trains to a post office where kids can stamp cards with dozens of original greetings, from a New England village made of gingerbread to a life-size Christmas village. December 7th is a busy day for Santa. First stop is Bethlehem, where the annual Christmas Town Festival is going full swing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Head first for the post office where the kids can help mail the family Christmas card by stamping them with "cachets," special rubber stamps with holiday décor and greetings from this little town of Bethlehem. More than 60 designs are available, and since children often want to try them all, parents are advised to bring along extra sheets of paper. Afterwards move onto the festival, where you'll likely spy Santa Claus happily posing for photos. Later, it's on to Middlebury, where the 35th annual Gingerbread Village and Christmas Bazaar is being unveiled at St. George's Episcopal Church (203-758-9864). This miniature New England village is made up of more than 50 delightful and edible gingerbread houses and buildings. The Gingerbread Village display remains through December 14th. Santa tries to get to Middlebury by 4 p.m. when the tree lighting ceremony takes place on the village green. But even if he is late, he never misses the hot chocolate served following the lighting in the Shepardson Center, where he likes hob-nobbing with the kids. On December 14, you'll find the red-suited hero of the season at the Railroad Station in New Milford for the opening of the popular Hands On Train Display. Each year the station waiting room is transformed into a Lilliputian landscape of hills, valleys and villages. The towns, populated by tiny figures dressed in winter finery, are crisscrossed by whizzing layouts of miniature Lionel trains. Visitors not only get to admire the trains but also can have a try at operating the signals and lights. The trains remain daily through December 31st and Santa drops in every Saturday between noon and 2 p.m. For hours, phone 860-354-6080. Though he gets around, Santa has a home base in the Litchfield Hills. For more than 30 years he has parked his sleigh in Torrington, where the town's annual Christmas Village goes up on December 8. The jolly host receives young guests here in a comfortable oak-beamed "living room" with logs crackling in the fireplace. After a chat and a small gift from Santa, the children can go across the corridor to the "toy shop" to watch local "elves" busily working on toys for youngsters in the town hospital. Santa's sleigh, complete with live reindeer, is parked outside. The village is open daily from 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. until Christmas Eve, when it closes at 2 p.m., as Santa has other obligations that evening. For more information about holiday shopping and other Christmas events and to receive a free copy of UNWIND, a 40-page color guide to lodging and dining and other historic sites and regional attractions, write to the Litchfield Hills Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, call (860) 567-4506 or visit their web site at www.litchfieldhills.com.