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Holiday Stroll brightens Medfield, despite pandemic

By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff

Each year, residents and visitors flock to Medfield center to enjoy the annual Holiday Stroll. Some of those taking part in the stroll typically enjoy a meal at some of the local eateries, while others get to work on their holiday shopping. Families make their way to Baxter Park, listen to some spirited carols, and watch as the trees in the park light up.

This year’s COVID-19 restrictions forced organizers to come up with a new plan for this beloved tradition that would enable residents could celebrate from the safety of their own homes. Medfield TV, the Cultural Alliance of Medfield (CAM), and the Medfield Employers and Merchants Organization (MEMO) worked together to ensure the holiday tradition continued this year with the production of a special TV program.

Typically, CAM will help bring in artists for the Holiday Stroll on different stops. Usually, the Zullo Gallery, the Medfield Public Library, and the United Church of Christ will host these artists and their work for strollers to enjoy and in some cases, purchase some local work. “We couldn’t do any of that this year in person,” explained Jean Mineo, chair of CAM.

Instead, Medfield TV’s Holiday Stroll program focused on a selection of local artists who were willing to do a segment and talk about their work. “Working with Medfield TV was wonderful. I think still being able to highlight the arts and artists and bring some attention to them. They’re all small businesses; we know how much they’re hurting,” Mineo acknowledged. The reimagined stroll will make all the difference for these artists this holiday season.

For over 30 years, the Medfield Employers and Merchants Organization (MEMO) has been a part of this beloved tradition, hosting the holiday tree lighting and the "Joy to the World" concert at Baxter Park. Typically, MEMO volunteers spend the day after Thanksgiving going to the park to ensure all the lights are working properly so that they can be flipped on ceremoniously during the Holiday Stroll and usher in the season. Volunteers still checked the lights, but knew that they would not see a live audience like they usually would. Instead, viewers watched as the lights of Baxter Park flipped on during the last few moments of the Holiday Stroll program.

Medfield TV usually covers Holiday Stroll when conditions are normal. This year’s coverage was on a much grander scale. To get this program onto screens took an extraordinary amount of planning from Medfield TV’s team. Knowing that the usual stroll may take a hit, Medfield TV’s staff began planning for an alternate program in the summer. By August, they were filming the artist profiles. “Audrey [Ensor] and Amanda [Timons] were filming all these different interviews,” explained Medfield TV General Manager Brett Poirier. 

On top of that, Medfield TV took on the huge task of editing carols sung by members of  The United Church of Christ (UCC). Audrey Ensor, chief editor, synched individual segments of the songs together to create a beautifully socially distanced chorus. “That was a really incredible production on that part, and then we added in that it was a livestream and went live to Baxter Park,” said Poirier. Combined, Medfield TV used a number of different production techniques that they had never used, all for just one program. It was a moon-shot scenario and Medfield put together a beautiful program that honored one of the town’s oldest traditions.

It is entirely fitting that this year's holiday season finds people working together in ways they never had before. The result of the pandemic-altered Holiday Stroll had Medfield residents enjoying a new twist on the event from their living rooms. Conditions will hopefully be back to normal next year, but no one will forget this year's unique, festive iteration of the annual Holiday Stroll.

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