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Locals show off their ugly sweaters at Hawks & Reed

  • From left, Melanie Cantini, Erin McConnell and Rebecca Perry show off their attire for the Ugly Sweater Party in the Wheelhouse at Hawks & Reed on Saturday in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Erin McConnell shows off her sweater decorated for the Ugly Sweater Party in the Wheelhouse at Hawks and Reed on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Rose Hathaway shows off her sweater decorated with golden bells for the Ugly Sweater Party in the Wheelhouse at Hawks and Reed on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Rose Hathaway shows off her sweater decorated with golden bells for the Ugly Sweater Party in the Wheelhouse at Hawks and Reed on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, December 26, 2017

GREENFIELD — The colorful bells on Erin McConnell’s sweater jingled as she sat down beside her friend, Rose Hathaway, who was perhaps even more jingly, with golden bells up and down her pink sweater.

McConnell had spent several hours Saturday crafting the ugliest sweater she could muster. On the front, sequins formed the shape of a Christmas tree, decorated by beads and bells. Tiny present boxes and white pom poms simulating snow were glued on, too, while the sweater’s back had three miniature stockings. With one word in glitter on each, the stockings spelled out “Hawks and Reed.”

“I went all out for this,” said McConnell, 24, of Bernardston, describing how her efforts to dry the glitter on the stockings with her hair dryer resulted in a blown fuse in her bathroom.

Her hours of work were all in preparation for the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center’s first-ever ugly sweater party. Co-Manager Benjamin Goldsher, himself decked out in a sweater a la Bill Cosby, said he’d attended ugly sweater parties in the past and thought it’d be something fun and different to bring to the Hawks & Reed.

“It’s kind of a classic holiday party,” he said, noting that he hopes the arts center will host ugly sweater parties annually. “Who doesn’t love an ugly sweater?”

Though the sweaters are described as ugly, Goldsher said it “more or less means a creative holiday sweater, something warm or loud.” In fact, residents milling about in their sweaters attested to how the market on ugly sweaters has grown drastically as they become trendy.

“The game is changing,” said Kara McColgan, 29, who attended the ugly sweater party with fellow Greenfield residents Chelsea Smith, 27, and Ariel Taylor, 27. “If you go to thrift stores, they don’t have anymore because people buy them up so fast.”

Part of the fun, sweater-wearers said, is competition among friends to create the most ridiculous sweater.

“People want to have the ugliest,” Goldsher said. The Hawks & Reed’s ugly sweater party featured a competition, with Goldsher and DJ Funkybottom — who provided music for the night — selecting their favorite.

When asked what qualities a sweater should have to have a shot at being the ugliest, sweater-wearers emphasized the importance of using blinking lights, bells, tinsel, bows and other holiday items to give the sweaters a three-dimensional element.

“The best ugly sweaters are the ones you create yourself,” said McColgan. Though she wore a black and white patterned cardigan, McColgan lamented losing an elf sweater she had that was “pretty hideous.”

Hathaway, 29, of Greenfield, recommended ugly sweater designers select the “frumpiest sweater” in their closet and adorn it with decorations. During the holidays, she said, spending a moment away from shopping and wrapping presents to decorate a sweater is a way to unwind. So is going out to show off the finished product.

“I always like to wear fun sweaters at Christmas that many consider ugly, but that I find beautiful,” she said. “It’s fun to wear stuff you don’t normally wear.”

“It just gets you in the Christmas spirit,” McConnell added.

In McConnell’s eyes, an ugly sweater is something to be proud of.

“Just own it,” she said. “The more ridiculous, the better. You just have to go for it, no matter what anyone thinks.”

Reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 257