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The Yankee Express

Holidays grow in appeal in Grafton, Millbury and Sutton

“The line stretches all the way back to Terre Haute!” Santa exclaimed at the Asa Waters Mansion in Millbury, when told that a large number of adults and children were waiting to see him and Mrs. Claus.


As longtime celebrants of the season, the towns of Grafton, Millbury and Sutton know a little something about how to sparkle up the holidays.
Saturday, December 3rd and Sunday, December 4th were those communities’ time to shine near Christmastime, and they didn’t disappoint.

 John Scott, Erin Prior, Lauren Scott and Muriel Scott sell chocolate as a fundraiser during “Grafton Celebrates the Holidays.”

Marge Duff, Russ Kassatly, April Kassatly and Alice Shaw help with the 50/50 Raffle during the “Chain of Lights”—Christmas in historic Sutton

Mary Ann Brayer and Carrie Hogan work the Friends of the Grafton Public Library table during “Grafton Celebrates the Holidays.

The success of the respective productions this year was made possible by strong support from local businesses—as it has been in the past.
Sutton’s Chain of Lights, now in its thirtieth year, was made possible by presenting sponsor bankHometown, trolley sponsors Catelli Bros. Family Foods, UniBank, Unified2 Global Packaging Group, Market 321 and Country Montessori Children’s Center, and several other underwriters of the many events held throughout the historic village.
Event Level 1 sponsors in Sutton included Millbury Federal Credit Union, the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce, Goretti’s Supermarket and IBA Print Shop. Event Level 2 sponsors were Al’s Rubbish & Container, Millbury National Bank, Nu-England Services Co. Inc., Galaxy Development, MMC Tax & Business Advisors, AE and the Whitin Community Center.
Sutton’s celebration owes its start in 1992 to Gary Vaillancourt of Vaillancourt Folk Art, who worked with the Worcester County Convention & Visitors Bureau to create a multi-town special Christmas-themed happening linking all of Central Massachusetts in a “Chain of Lights.” Sutton’s inaugural was called “Christmas Tastes in Sutton” and featured just one trolley and four stops. This year’s re-enactment showed how far Mr. Vaillancourt’s vision has come, with ten trolleys or buses carrying attendees to seventeen different venues.
Vaillancourt Folk Art, now situated in the Manchaug Mill, was one of the attractions with a miniature German Christmas Wine Market and mini European Christmas market. Vallaincourt’s own Christmas Cabernet Sauvignon and Nurnberg’s original hot Gluhwein were a highlight of the tastes available to patrons, hearkening back to how it all began.
The story of commerce and culture coming together in a winning fashion was much the same in Millbury, were All Care Medical Supply, bankHometown, Cake Shop Café, DiRenzo Towing & Recovery, Goretti’s, IBA Print Shop, K&T Law Office and Millbury Family Dentistry stepped up corporate sponsors with a large contingent of banner sponsors, entertainment sponsors and other supporters also contributing. 
In Sutton, hours-long rain on Saturday did nothing to dampen the spirits of attendees as they checked out Puckihuddle’s Winter Carnival, the Gingerbread Fair at St. Mark’s Catholic Church, Charlie Brown’s Christmas at Mickey’s Car Wash & Detail Shop, Winter Wonderland games and crafts for the kids at Dudley Gendron Post 414, handcrafted goods, raffle baskets and homemade baked items at First Congregational Church, “our famous hot chocolate bar” at Legacy Baptist Church, and a chance to view hundreds of historical items at the General Rufus Putnam Museum and the M.M. Sherman Blacksmith Shop—to name just some of the many locations available by way of Route 1 and Route 2 trolley rides.
On Sunday, with better weather—fair and almost balmy—Grafton witnessed large crowds for its annual “Grafton Celebrates the Holidays.” The same was true in downtown Millbury for Millbury’s 23rd annual “Chain of Lights.”
In Millbury, Informed as he sat with “Mrs. Claus” in a small room at the Asa Waters Mansion on Elm St. that dozens of adults and children were assembled in the hallway, waiting for a chance to see them, “Santa” voiced a memorable remark from “A Christmas Story” with a huge smile on his face—“It stretches all the way back to Terre Haute”!
In Grafton and in Millbury, areas in and around the Town Common were clogged with pedestrians enjoying the comfortable temperatures.
“We live in Shrewsbury now but we lived in Grafton for thirty years,” Dominic Protano, accompanied by his wife Joan, said, as he sipped a cup of coffee. “We have enjoyed coming back, this year.”
Grafton, Millbury and Sutton have become old pros at celebrating the Christmas season with a variety of offerings that drive interest among adults and children alike.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.