Hatfield lights up for 36th Luminarium

  • Aya Hua, 3, of Granby gets a hug from Santa Claus upon his arrival at Hatfield Town Hall for the 36th annual Luminarium on Sunday, December 18, 2016. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Aya Hua, 3, of Granby gets a hug from Santa Claus upon his arrival at Hatfield Town Hall for the 36th annual Luminarium on Sunday. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ben Chase, right, a 2009 alum of Smith Academy, plays “Jingle Bells” and other carols with the Smith Academy Brass Ensemble under the direction of Kenneth Longstreeth, left, during the 36th annual Hatfield Luminarium celebrated in front of Town Hall on Sunday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

HATFIELD — The Hatfield Luminarium rolled into its 36th year Sunday, and as with years past, the town’s main drags were illuminated by candlelit milk jugs and paper bags.

Each year, drivers steer bumper-to-bumper through town (headlights off for best effect) to view the light display. Family and friends gather at neighborhood houses for snacks, and kids meet Santa Claus outside the Town Hall.

Ed Pelis, who lives on Main Street, said Sunday he has taken part in every Hatfield Luminarium since the event’s inception decades ago.

For Pelis, 64, putting out candlelit milk jugs every year and inviting people over for food has become tradition.

“It’s just an incredible event where I think the community comes together,” he said. Pelis said he used to put out paper bags, like many of his neighbors, but stopped about 12 years ago.

“This is much more effective,” he said of the jugs.

Beyond the lights, residents and others gathered at Town Hall to hear Christmas tunes from the Smith Academy Brass Ensemble. Those huddled around the stage were encouraged to sing along.

The ensemble played “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” as Santa Claus got out of the passenger side of a Hatfield fire truck to greet children.

“There’s 3,300 people in this town and it’s nice we have this small community that enables us to have these types of events,” said Jeff Pearl, who has lived in Hatfield since 2009 with his wife, Melissa, and three children. Their daughter Emily, 6, asked Santa for ear muffs and a guitar.

The couple compared the joyful event to a Lifetime movie.

“We’re just out in front of Town Hall singing,” Melissa Pearl said.

Doug Selkirk, 54, was eating a sugar cookie and talking to Tom Sokoloski, 49, of Holyoke, in the Fire Department garage after the ensemble performance.

“It’s pretty much a big community event each year,” Selkirk said. “It’s great driving and seeing the whole town lit up.”

Nate Bench, 29, left the fire station to head to the First Congregational Church on Main Street for the annual bell and choral concert a little before 7 p.m.

He lives in West Springfield with his wife and two children.

“This is my fourth time,” he said. “I love it. It’s great to see a community getting together with traditional values and it feels like a big family.”

Contact Jack Suntrup at jsuntrup@gazettenet.com.