A who’s who of ‘Whobalation’: Easthampton event brings holiday cheer

  • Elaine Wood, left, is seen with fellow Whobalation organizers Robin Bialecki and Fahn Miner, alongside Elsa from “Frozen,” the Grinch and Santa. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

  • Courtney Driscoll is seen with her parents, Conor and Shaleen Driscoll, at Whobalation on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

  • Nina Renkert, left, and Anna Moran, seniors at the Williston Northampton School, are seen at Whobalation on Sunday night. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

  • Roxanne Labato-Bailey and her husband, Steve Bailey, sang and danced at Whobalation on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

  • Whobalation is seen from a distance on Sunday at Millside Park. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

  • Presents are seen under the Christmas tree at Whobalation on Sunday. These presents will be given to needy children through the Easthampton Community Center. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

  • Husband and wife, David and Mary Patriquin, pose with the Grinch and Santa Clause as part of Whobalation on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

Staff Writer
Published: 12/9/2019 1:27:02 PM

EASTHAMPTON — More than 100 people braved the cold on Sunday night to take part in the 7th annual Whobalation, a celebration of giving, Christmas, and that most enduring of holiday characters, the Grinch.

According to local legend, Mount Tom was Dr. Seuss’ inspiration for Mount Crumpit, where the titular Grinch of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” makes his home. And this legend has it that Easthampton, the city in Mount Tom’s shadow, was the inspiration for Whoville.

Whobalation was originally supposed to be a flash mob organized by local resident Fahn Miner.

“Everybody would come out and they’d do the “Fahoo Fores” song,” said Miner.

But after the idea got a response from thousands of people, Miner teamed up with Elaine Wood and Easthampton Community Center Executive Director Robin Bialecki to do something more. People would bring toys to donate to the community center’s efforts to help families in need, and the Grinch himself would make an appearance.

Every holiday season, the Easthampton Community Center, which serves 14 communities, gives toys and warm clothing to children in need, including a new pair of pajamas for each child. The children’s families are also given food.

Bialecki said that last year 800 families were served. She also said that each year about a third of the toys the community center distributes come from Whobalation.

Santa started coming to the event two years ago, after Easthampton stopped doing its Holiday Stroll, and this year’s festivities featured Santa and the Grinch exchanging presents, after which they placed them under the donation tree. Elsa, from Disney’s “Frozen” movies, made an appearance as well.

This year’s Whobalation took place in Millside Park, underneath the bandstand cover.

“The more toys we can get out to kids, the better,” Bialecki said.

In addition to giving, this year’s celebration also featured singing, including the song, “Welcome Christmas,” also known as the “Fahoo Fores” song and the “Whoville Song.” Children got to meet Santa, the Grinch and Elsa.

Mary and David Patriquin came to Whobalation for the first time this year and made sure to get their photo taken with the Grinch and Santa.

“It’s a great idea, I love it,” said David Patriquin. “I think it promotes the town, and it just gives a little communal feeling for everybody.”

Roxanne Labato-Bailey and her husband, Steve Bailey, were dancing together at the event.

Labato-Bailey said that when she first came to Easthampton around 30 years ago, “there was very little for anyone to do around here, and people were isolated.”

“This is a great opportunity for people to get to know each other,” she continued.

Bailey said he remembered finding out about Dr. Seuss being inspired by Mount Tom.

“So we are Whoville. Yahoo!” he exclaimed.

Shaleen and Conor Driscoll attended Whobalation with their 3-year-old daughter, Courtney, who placed a doll under the tree to be donated.

“It’s important to us that she wants to give back,” Shaleen Driscoll said.

This was the Driscolls’ second time at Whobalation.

“We love that we live in Whoville,” Shaleen Driscoll said.

Anna Moran and Nina Renkert, seniors at the Williston Northampton School, were volunteering at Whobalation as part of the Community Service Club at the school.

“I feel like it brings everyone together in our community,” Renkert said.

It was Renkert’s third time at Whobalation and Moran’s second.

“If you missed it this year, make sure to come next year,” said Renkert. “It’s such a great cause.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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