Submitted by Essex Jct. Parks & Recreation

In its second year running the Train Hop & Tree Lighting, the Essex Jct. Recreation and Parks estimates about 1,500 people turned out for the 10th annual holiday event.

Village businesses opened their doors to allow event-goers the chance to see model trains and collect goodies, while partakers again collected a free map from any participating business or community partner and wander through “hop stops,” set up all throughout downtown Essex Jct. Each stop hosted a model train and provided baked goods or other treats.

This year was the first time EJRP was also in charge of the tree lighting. “We wanted to make the tree lighting a little different than in previous years” said Kirsten Santor, Program Director of Community Recreation at EJRP, in a news release. “We really focused on decorating Veteran’s Memorial Park because it is such a focal point of five corners. We had the ADL middle school chorus singing and there was a community countdown when Santa lit the trees. It was really magical.”

A huge thanks goes out to John Gaworecki and his contacts who are instrumental in getting trains set up in each business. Organizers say the event would not be possible without Gaworecki’s passion for trains and resourcefulness in helping each business get a train set up.

Stops this year included Brownell Library hosting the Essex Reporter with a letter writing to Santa station and Essex Players; the Village Offices hosting the Lions Club, the Senior Center, Fire Station, Murray’s Tavern, Maplehurst Florist, McGuillicuddy’s, and the National Guard Office. Community Bank had one of the bravest set-ups, stationing themselves on the lawn of the village offices despite Friday night’s low temperatures.

Photos by Colin Flanders, The Essex Reporter