Newport Winter Festival returns with a full schedule after a 2-year hiatus. What to expect

NEWPORT – After two straight years of Covid cancellations Newport Winter Festival is back for its 32nd annual celebration, and the schedule from Feb. 17-26 is packed with events full of food, music and fun scattered all across the city.

For the past two years organizers made the difficult decision to cancel the festival after considering the health and safety of the community, but this year the events are back with a festive vengeance: among 150 events, competitions and experiences to choose from, community members attending this year’s festival can sip presidential cocktails with Litchfield Distilleries on President’s Day, catch Tom Petty and Jimmy Buffet tribute acts during the week and turn up the heat on the competition’s taste buds in the 26th annual chili cook-off.

“I enjoy seeing the town busy in the dead of winter…what we’re really proud of is the whole business community gets involved, enjoys themselves, and generates some revenue in the winter. In past years we’ve even sold out a lot of the hotels, in the middle of winter,” Festival organizer David Rosenberg said. “We’re very excited to bring the Winter Festival back after a two-year hiatus – it has a huge economic impact on the business community, and a psychological impact on everybody else with 10 days of nonstop fun during the doldrums of winter. Our theme is ‘Don’t hibernate, celebrate!’ and we have something for everybody, of every age.”

While the full schedule is available at newportwinterfestival.com here are some of the highlights:

Where can you get Newport Winter Festival bracelets, tickets?

Commemorative Souvenir Winter Festival bracelets provide discounts or free admission to all official Festival events, as well as discounts at over 50 local businesses and restaurants. The bracelets are $10, and the Winter Fest website said they could provide over $500

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Remembrance of Things Past: Summer vacations of yore

Not long ago, my granddaughters came bursting into the house singing and shouting, “School’s out!” Needless to say, they were excited about the last day of school. As a retired teacher, I could have told them they weren’t as excited as their teachers were. The half days before Christmas vacation and the last day of school are the longest days of the school year! I’m sure those girls will have lots to do this summer, especially since their cousins from Virginia are here for the season. There are a lot of specialized camps offered every summer. The Mystic Seaport has some great ones.

I must say that my granddaughters’ excitement brought back my memories of summer vacations. Even way back in the 60s, there were things to do. Some kids worked at Whittles. Many of us went to camp. Camp Wightman, a church camp, was very popular. The Girl Scouts operated Camp Pattagansett and Camp Laurel (which my daughters later attended), and I spent several weeks at Camp Wakenah in Salem, the Pequot Council Boy Scout Camp. I remember one summer working on canoeing and lifesaving merit badges, and mile swim. There was another private camp on Gardner Lake, Camp Trupin, which was a lot more expensive than Wakenah!

I spent a lot of time in the summer at Williams Beach, which was run by the Mystic Community Center. Being too young to drive, I’d climb on my Schwinn, which had coaster brakes, no gears and newsboy baskets on the back, and coast down Oral School Road to River Road and then pedal down Pearl Street to West Main. Left on West Main, being careful to avoid the trolley tracks, over the bridge and up to Mason’s Island Road. From there to Harry Austin Drive, named after the longtime beach

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