×

Starry Starry Night helps ‘put Orange on the map’

  • People gather around a bonfire in the frigid temperatures during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Dave Bishop, of the Orange Fire Department, adds another wooden pallet to the bonfire during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • A bonfire burns behind the Orange Fire Station during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • People gather around a bonfire in the frigid temperatures during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • People gather around a bonfire in the frigid temperatures during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Fiddler Zoë Darrow performs at the Town Hall during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Fiddler Zoë Darrow performs at the Town Hall during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Members of the Inside/Out Dance Company perform at the United Methodist Church during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Members of the Inside/Out Dance Company perform at the United Methodist Church during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Gracie Marsh performs with members of the Inside/Out Dance Company at the United Methodist Church during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Madalyn Vescovi, right, and Taylor Paluk wait for their turn to perform with the members of the Inside/Out Dance Company at the United Methodist Church during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • The Green Sisters perform at the Congregational Church during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • The Green Sisters perform at the Congregational Church during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • The Green Sisters perform at the Congregational Church during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Ice sculptures displayed in Memorial Park during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Ice sculptures displayed in Memorial Park during the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 in Orange. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Monday, January 01, 2018

ORANGE — Purple, blue, green and orange stage lights streaked the Town Hall walls with color as Will Corey walked back and forth on stage, singing Thomas Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man.”

Corey was one of 14 featured performers at the 22nd annual Starry Starry Night, Orange’s traditional New Year’s Eve celebration. Negative temperatures Sunday night didn’t stop local residents from coming out to see the performers, the ice sculptures in Memorial Park, the Parade of Stars or the late-night fireworks.

“It gets the community out and about attending things,” said Orange resident Mark Cole. Joking about the frigid temperatures, he added, “It’d be better if it was in July!”

But Starry Starry Night was always planned as a New Year’s Eve celebration. According to Orange resident Ann Miller, one of the original volunteers, organizers with the Orange Revitalization Partnership wanted “something for the North Quabbin area” so people didn’t have to travel to First Night Northampton, or to Boston.

“We wanted to have a First Night sort of thing of our own,” Miller said. “It’s a way of really putting Orange on the map.”

Now, Miller attends only as a guest. She said the “fantastic performers” have kept her coming back for all 22 years.

Standing in the upstairs lobby of Town Hall, before a wall of Starry Starry Night posters, Cole kept an eye on the free hot chocolate and cookie booth run by his Boy Scout troop. Cole, scoutmaster with Troop 1837, said the Scouts have offered hot chocolate for 20 years, though the frigid temperatures led them to move from their usual post outside the Fire Station to inside Town Hall.

“This is a community service project for them,” Cole said. Once their shifts are done, the Boy Scouts often explore the other performances and attractions, with Cole saying the fireworks and nearby bonfire are particularly popular.

Due to extreme temperatures, the hay rides traditionally offered by the Athol and Orange Lions Clubs, with assistance from the Scouts, were canceled, according to the Starry Starry Night website.

Regardless, Starry Starry Night attracted plenty of newcomers, like Grayson Chesbrough, 19, and Emily Hill, 18, both of Fitchburg, who found the event online.

“It seems like a fun celebration,” Chesbrough said as the two entered Town Hall to see fiddler Zoë Darrow perform. Hill added the event provided a welcome alternative to driving to Boston.

Darrow was the main attraction for Athol resident Diane Karnstadt and her 22-year-old daughter Chloe Stevens. Both were attending Starry Starry Night for the first time, having heard about it through word of mouth, and were intrigued by the music genres.

Miller said she appreciates how organizers, donors and volunteers pull together to ensure the event continues, overcoming a bump in the road in 2016 after a number of longtime volunteers stepped down. Though it was initially unclear if the event would continue, organizers appealed to the public for help and the event enjoyed a resurgence of support.

“I don’t want this to die,” she said. “So many things people have done in Orange over the years, they peter out because there’s not a lot of people here.”

Miller said she hopes young volunteers will step up to keep the tradition going. Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to email orp.starrystarrynight@gmail.com or crystalparent34@gmail.com.