Amherst celebrates first day of Winterfest

Roughly 100 people attended one of 35 snow-themed events during the winter season

Photo+By+Eva+Trainer

Photo By Eva Trainer

By Alvin Buyinza, Assistant News Editor

Roughly 1,500 decorated paper lanterns illuminated the Amherst Common as part of the Luminaria on the Common festival on Saturday. Hundreds of attendees came together to enjoy live a capella music and local restaurant catering at the three-hour event.

Hosted by the Amherst Business Improvement District in collaboration with Amherst’s Leisure Services and Supplemental Education department, the festival was on the first day of the 10-day long Winterfest, where over 35 snow-themed events and festivities will aim to entertain the community during the cold season.

Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian

“I would say that it really just brings people together between that lull of the holiday season and spring time,” said Nicole Abelli, a camp outreach and special events coordinator for LSSE. “It really gives the community [a] place and event to look forward to.”

Part of LSSE’s commitment to this event was to partner with the local elementary schools such as Crocker Farm Preschool, the Common School,Amherst Montessori School and Cushman Scott’s Children Center to get their students to decorate and design paper lanterns to be placed across the Common.

Coming into the event, dozens of children took no time attempting to find their lantern in the snow. Meanwhile, a long, crowded line of hungry students and parents formed near a tent giving out free cookies courtesy of Insomnia Cookies. In small pockets of the Commons, adults gathered around a burning barrel for warmth while talking amongst one another.

In the streets of downtown, local restaurants, such as La Veracruzana Mexican Restaurant, were serving free hot chocolate along with 30Boltwood, which was also serving chili and mulled ciders.

“It’s nice to see, like in the long, long winter, people coming out and gathering together,” said Paula Lima Jones, a resident of Amherst. Jones attended the event with her husband Norm and their two children, Caleb, 7, and Aleah, 5.

Prior to the Luminaria on the Common, the Jones’ also attended the Amherst vs. Bates College men’s basketball game at Amherst College, another Winterfest event open to the public.

Sharply at 5:30 p.m., people gathered around in a small corner in the far right of the Common to listen to a live a capella performances by the Amherst College DQ and the University of Massachusetts Doo Wop Shop.

The Amherst College DQ performed their renditions of songs such as “Body Like a Back Road,” “Ghost,” “Dangerous Woman” and “Creep,” which they have been practicing since October.

Shortly after, the UMass Doo Wop Shop drew in their own crowd of listeners, singing songs such as “My Girl,” “Colder Weather” and “In the Still of the Night.” Amongst the crowd were members of another UMass a capella group, Sharp Attitude.

“I believe that their performance had a lot of variety in their music, and it’s awesome how they can sing just a wide range of songs,” said Amanda Geist, freshman communication major and member of Sharp Attitude. Geist, along with the other members of Sharp Attitude, also attended Doo Wop Shop’s fall semester concert in Hasbrouck Hall.

“I think it’s really great that they’re involved in the community and like Amanda said, they really have a versatile sound so they do a bunch of different gigs and really connect with people,” said Emily Ko, another member of Sharp Attitude.

Alvin Buyinza can be reached at [email protected]mass.eduand followed on Twitter at @abuyinza_news.