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Holiday Open House makes spirits bright

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff

Walpole seniors enjoyed a full day of merriment at the Council on Aging’s Holiday Open House
on Friday, December 16. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the center was equal parts shopping bazaar,
concert hall, and gathering place.

Beginning with breakfast, seniors had adequate time to relax, mingle with neighbors, and enjoy
a hearty meal to prepare them for the day’s festivities.

Seniors were able to finish their last-minute holiday shopping upstairs, where plenty of
handmade and donated goods were offered. Downstairs, some participated in the enticing
raffles or took a leisurely coffee break. Some even met up with Santa during his brief visit!

The holiday stroll portion of the open house had seniors filling tote bags with goodies.
Handmade hats and jewelry, as well as mugs and greeting cards, were sold at a fair price. Local
community partners got in the spirit and themed their tables to popular holiday films. Businesses
offered treats, as well as information on services available for seniors.

Adding an especially festive element to the day, traditional carolers stood on the stairwell and
sang a pitch-perfect renditions of the Hallelujah Chorus, “Jingle Bell Rock”, and myriad seasonal
tunes. The Holiday Victorian Carolers are a Boston-based group of professionals that spread
Christmas cheer by selecting carols and taking requests. “It’s a joy to sing for the seniors,” said
caroler Paula Markowicz. “They recognize the songs. You can see it in their faces, in their eyes,
that they’re really nostalgic and they join along. It makes it a lot more fun for us.” The carolers
have been attending Walpole’s Holiday Open House since 2019.

The entertainment didn’t end with carols, as the Paul Nolan Experience aided a sing-along of
holiday classics. The jazz-influenced group had seniors clapping along with “Holly Jolly
Christmas”, and everyone shared a laugh during a parody of “Jingle Bells” that detailed a
stressful holiday that we’ve all experienced once or twice.

Later, dancers from the Commonwealth Dance Academy contributed their significant talents in
celebrating the day with sparkling choreography during the finale performance.

Acknowledging that the holidays can be a difficult time for some, COA staff excelled at making
everyone feel included. COA Director Kerri McManama boiled it down to one thing: “At the end
of the day, we want to make them feel loved.”

With both seniors and staff members welcoming one another with open arms, displaying acts of
kindness throughout the day, helping their neighbors whenever possible, and reaching out to
form new friendships, that seasonal love was very much in the air.

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