Community Celebrates Wallingford

Photo courtesy of Justin Weekes

Celebrate Wallingford draws crowds of both students and town residents, highlighting the importance of community, in its most popular year yet.

Last Saturday and Sunday, October 7 and 8, tents lined the streets, North and South Main Street were closed to traffic, and hundreds of Wallingford citizens swarmed the area. This was Celebrate Wallingford, a yearly event dedicated to showcasing the impact of local vendors on the community. Filled with food, energy, and music, the event was held from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and featured restaurants including Mr. D’s, The Eatery, and various organizations like Boys and Girls Club, Farmers Insurance, and Pure Living.

This was the 31st year of Celebrate Wallingford, hosted by Wallingford Center, Inc. According to Liz Landow, the executive director of Wallingford Center, 2017 was Celebrate Wallingford’s biggest year, with 48 civic groups, 40 businesses, 20 crafters, and 16 restaurants participating.

In addition to vendors and music, Celebrate Wallingford featured a model train show in Town Hall, presented by the New Haven Society of Model Engineers, as well as a classic car show on Hall Avenue, hosted by Doo Wop Cruisers. Celebrate Wallingford was also the finish line for the YMCA/Fishbein Road Race 5K and 10K which occurred on Sunday morning.

If you noticed any art in town on the weekend, you’re not alone. Students from Splat Art Studio painted 16 storefronts near Center and North Main Street, several hydrants were painted by Catalyst Art Studio, and 80 lamp-posts and town fixtures were covered in yarn decorations by the Wallingford Yarn Bombers.
“It was so much bigger than I thought it would be,” said Kathy Lee ’19. “I had a lot of fun, and I got free things from many different tents, like a Starbucks gift card and candy.”

In addition to restaurants and artistic groups, other businesses and organizations participated in Celebrate Wallingford, including Karen 4 Your Petz, Boys and Girls Club of Meriden, and Connecticut Operation Lifesaver. Karen 4 Your Petz is a private pet-sitting and dog-walking business in Wallingford. The organization provides services for overnight, 15, 30, or 60 minutes to owners who are on vacation, are undergoing surgery, or are otherwise unable to care for their dogs for a time. It also brings pets to wedding venues and works with the owners to organize pet weddings.

Boys and Girls Club in Meriden was also a part of Celebrate Wallingford to attract volunteers, advertise their fall programs, and provide handbooks. The club provides safe and comfortable spaces for kids to interact with their peers and to be open about their situation, whether it be as trivial as homework or serious as problems at home or bullying.

“Our main event this fall is the Halloween Party on the 28th. We will have a Haunted House, build a maze, and have kids go around and do trick or treat. It’s all completely free,” said Justin, a staff member. “We wanted to reach out to Wallingford residents to get help so that we can organize the event successfully.”
Connecticut Operation Lifesaver (COL) is a free service group that provides active public education programs that focus on preventing and reducing accidents at the highway-rail grade crossing. C.O.L. participated in Celebrate Wallingford to inform the community about highway-rail grade crossing safety and to advertise its training programs.

“Every three hours, people get hit by a train,” said the manager. “We are a group that makes sure people are educated about highway-rail grade crossings and railroad tracks. We have online training programs which can be taken in English and Spanish.”

Choate Rosemary Hall is a Gold Sponsor of Celebrate Wallingford and also had its own booth, where several admissions faculty members and Gold Key Tour guides informed Wallingford residents about the school.

“Choate lives, works, and plays in Wallingford, and it should be an active participant in town events like Celebrate Wallingford,” said Ms. Jane Sahlin, a receptionist in the Admissions Office. “It’s a campus that benefits by being a part of Wallingford.”

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