The man of the hour’s due to arrive in Woodstock on Christmas Eve – but how?

(Dion Ogust | Almanac Weekly)

So what’s the big spoiler that everyone’s talking about this month? That Major Thing that Happens in Star Wars: The Force Awakens? That one will not be divulged here (or elsewhere in this issue), but good luck to you browsing the Internet this week without finding out involuntarily. Or maybe some tipsy cousin or colleague has already spilled the beans at some holiday party. But no, that’s not the one.

Neither is word that Kit Harington was spotted on set for the shooting of Game of Thrones Season Six, despite the fact that Season Five ended with his character, Jon Snow, apparently being stabbed to death by Night’s Watch mutineers. Very stabby, very dead. But his alleged miraculous return is so last month’s news.

In Woodstock, this December and every December, the great cosmic mystery that everyone you meet is hoping to solve is this: How will Santa arrive at the Village Green on Christmas Eve this year? What novel form of conveyance has never been used before in the annual tradition’s three-quarter-century history, yet still falls within the limited event budget of the organizing committee?

Those must be some imaginative people. In past years Santa has shown up on elephant and camelback, by hot rod and dogsled, zipline and hot-air balloon. He has climbed, skied and rappelled. How do you come up with something entirely new every year? It helps to be a town that’s a notorious hotbed of creativity, that’s for sure.

But the biggest mystery is how the secret is so closely kept. Have you ever met a Woodstocker who claimed to know ahead of time? Word has it that not even all the Christmas Eve Committee members are privy to what suggestion among many was ultimately chosen until the Big Night.

So ’tis the season for speculation. Has any unusual species of livestock been spotted poking a head out of a horse trailer passing through town lately? Did Sheriff Van Blarcum acquire an Army surplus tank at the last cop-gear convention? Have Philippe Petit’s neighbors been noticing that he’s looking a bit pudgy around the midsection of late, as he practices on his backyard high-wire? Your guess is as good as mine.

Meanwhile, put Christmas Eve on the Village Green in Woodstock on your bucket list, if it isn’t already there. Bring a kid or two if you’ve got some handy. Many locals show up without fail, no matter how horrible the weather, and some oldsters have been attending every year since they were wee ’uns. It’s one of our region’s most enduring and endearing holiday traditions.

If you don’t live within walking distance, do arrive as early as possible, or you won’t find a parking spot within walking distance – or a place to stand with a good view, as thousands usually turn out. As soon as the 5 p.m. Adirondack Trailways bus to New York City heads out of town on December 24, the police close Tinker Street to traffic, and a choir sings carols in front of the Dutch Reformed Church while the crowd gathers and anticipation builds.

Santa Claus typically arrives by 5:30. First there will be a parade of lit-up and decorated firetrucks, with the Lindsey Webster Band playing live music. And then…keep an eye in all directions, because there’s no knowing how the guest of honor will appear. He hands out about a thousand stockings containing Christmas and Hanukkah treats to kids at the Village Green, volunteers head out to deliver baskets of cheer and food to Woodstock’s housebound and needy, and then it’s all over once again: time for the Christmas Eve Committee members to put on their thinking caps for next year.

Share this article
Submit your comment

Please enter your name

Your name is required

Please enter a valid email address

An email address is required

Please enter your message

What's happening?

Sign up for the Almanac Weekend newsletter and receive a briefing on local arts and events delivered fresh to your inbox every Friday morning.

Hudson Valley Almanac Weekly © All Rights Reserved

An Ulster Publishing publication