Santa Claus has already visited Johnson, Vermont. You may have missed this news, but scores of his followers did not, braving single digit temperatures and work weary parents on the first Friday night of December to meet the man himself. Some children even hand-delivered their lists so he wouldn’t forget.
The occasion was the Johnson Holiday Jubilee, a community organized gathering for all ages with artisan crafts, local brews, live music, and art projects. An ingenious “Buy-Local Yokel” initiative began a month in advance with a raffle that rewarded the patronage of local businesses
The event has built upon itself over 15 years to include all the businesses on Main Street, plus the town’s clubs and non-profits, ranging from the Historical Society where stories were read to children in the warmth of their Holcomb House on Main Street, to Northern Vermont University’s Shred Club, building a rail jam for the teens.
Crafts were taught by the Cub Scouts, under supervision, while artists painted faces, each one different, underscoring the Town of Johnson’s status as an internationally recognized arts destination. While carolers strolled, the silhouettes of heavily clad toddlers, dancing and skipping on their way to see Santa in a tent on the Green, provided for me, as an artist, a genuine Norman Rockwell moment.
It feels so good when your community out does itself - pulling together, with more than 500 people of all ages out on Main Street at night. Setting aside differences and politics and getting caught up in a spirit fueled by bright lights and cold night air, the important thing was, we were together as a community.
Rumor has it that the organizers of the Holiday Jubilee are already planning for next year. And I hope that rumor is true - because single digits notwithstanding, we plan on being there.