Family event kicks off new year with pancakes, dancing

  • Flywheel Arts Collective volunteer David Taber flips pancakes Wednesday for the annual New Year’s Day Family Morning Music Party and Pancake Breakfast at Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton. The event was cosponsored by Flywheel and Hilltown Families. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Parents Anna Alter, back center, and Bruno Trindade, right, both of Florence, eat pancakes Wednesday with their children Tilly and Hugo Trindade, 9 and 5, during the annual New Year’s Day Family Morning Music Party and Pancake Breakfast at Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton. The event was cosponsored by Flywheel and Hilltown Families. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Sylvie Fiore, 6, of Springfield, eats a pancake Wednesday during the annual New Year’s Day Family Morning Music Party and Pancake Breakfast at Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Brothers Jaxon and Calum Reddy, 7, and 3, of Easthampton, dance together Wednesday during the annual New Year’s Day Family Morning Music Party and Pancake Breakfast at Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton. The event was co-sponsored by Flywheel and Hilltown Families. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Bruno Trindade of Florence dances Wednesday with daughter Tilly Trindade, 9, during the annual New Year’s Day Family Morning Music Party and Pancake Breakfast at Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton. The event was cosponsored by Flywheel and Hilltown Families. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Ciana Fruge, 8, left, and Lilah Morrato, 7, both of Florence, pour syrup on their pancakes Wednesday during the annual New Year’s Day Family Morning Music Party and Pancake Breakfast at Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton. The event was cosponsored by Flywheel and Hilltown Families. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

For the Gazette
Published: 1/1/2020 3:43:04 PM

Dozens of families gathered Wednesday morning at Easthampton’s Flywheel Arts Collective for a pancake breakfast, story time and dance party, in an annual event aimed at building community for both kids and parents while celebrating the new year.

The two-hour get-together was hosted by Flywheel and Hilltown Families with support from other local organizations. The morning music party has had various iterations since 2005, but this year’s event was more interactive than in past years, keeping the most popular elements —  the pancakes and dancing — but forgoing videos this time, said Flywheel board member and volunteer Jeremy Smith.

“The goal this year is to give parents an opportunity to have fun and build community through dancing,” Smith said.

Other interactive events included a jewelry making station with beads and a story told live by Maurice Soulfighter Taylor. His original piece, “The Lost Bear and the Broken Chair,” about a child outgrowing a teddy bear and finding new friends in unassuming places, was a new venture for him — he’s a poet, primarily — but it was an enjoyable experience, he said, and one he may keep working on.

In a side room, two volunteers flipped pancakes on griddles while people filed through the food line and parents filled up on coffee and helped their little ones pile on syrup, fresh fruit and berries.

Almost everyone said they were most looking forward to dancing, whether watching or participating, including David and Tiffany Reddy of Easthampton, who were there with sons Calum, 3, and Jackson, 7.

“Calum doesn’t like pancakes, but the kids are excited to dance,” Tiffany said while Calum jumped up and down next to her, saying he couldn’t wait to dance with his brother.

Rich and Ronna Palmieri of Waterbury, Conn., were there with 2-year-old granddaughter Noa Palmieri, who lives in Easthampton with her parents.

“Last year was Noa’s first year here,” Ronna said. “She’s 2 this year, and I think she’ll have even more fun. We’re looking forward to watching her dance with the other kids.”

“And it’s a nice break for her parents — a couple hours off is good for them right now, since they’re expecting their second child in three weeks,” Rich said.

The music kicked off with “Juice” by Lizzo, which got nearly everyone onto the dance floor under a spinning disco ball, continuing with more hits including “Havana” by Camilla Cabello.

At the jewelry making station, which was organized in part by Johanna Andreoli (coordinator for the Easthampton Family Center), Andreoli’s husband, Joe, helped their 5-year-old son, Louie, make a necklace. Louie gave the event a “thumbs up.”

“It’s a great event for the community,” Joe said, adding that his favorite part was watching Louie enjoy himself. “It really brings kids together of all ages to have fun.”

“Our mission at the Easthampton Family Center is to work with families with young children, and this is great for those families who are looking for something to do to celebrate the new year,” Johanna said.

Despite its name, Hilltown Families’ community-based education network and popular blog covers all four counties in western Massachusetts. Its partnership with Flywheel began more than 10 years ago, when Hilltown Families founder Sienna Wildfield started a family variety show on WXOJ (Valley Free Radio) and also began helping produce family concerts in the area — some at Flywheel, in its former Holyoke Street location — which eventually morphed into the New Year’s Day breakfast and dance, Wildfield said.

The event was sponsored thanks in part to a grant from the Easthampton Cultural Council, Smith said, and is one of three winter events. Other morning activities are planned for Feb. 1 and March 14, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., according to the Hilltown Families blog.




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