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A ‘Wonderful Night’ in Turners should indeed be wonderful

Schedule to run Thursday night, from 5 to 9 p.m.

Recorder/Paul Franz
Empty Storefronts on Ave A have been decorated for "Its A Wonderful Night In Turners Falls".

Recorder/Paul Franz Empty Storefronts on Ave A have been decorated for "Its A Wonderful Night In Turners Falls".

TURNERS FALLS — Last year’s “A Wonderful Wonderful Night in Turners Falls” is back, this year less one “Wonderful” but with a free screening of Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” in the Shea Theater.

The evening is scheduled to run from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, punctuated by a 7 p.m. tree lighting in Spinner Park, the small open space on Avenue A at the Fourth Street intersection decorated with a statue honoring textile workers.

Santa Claus is also scheduled to appear at the park, as are a band of carolers concluding their rounds, and capping the evening is the screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” at 8:30 p.m. in the Shea Theater, 71 Avenue A.

Director Frank Capra’s 1946 film stars James Stewart as a small-town banker on the verge of suicide and given a new appreciation of life with the help of an apprentice angel.

Afterwards, co-organizer Erin MacLean said Jake’s Tavern, across the street, will be open with “flaming rum punch,” angel Clarence’s order from the film, on the menu.

The event features extended store hours at some downtown shops and restaurants, discounts and freebies, newly created holiday displays decorating empty storefronts, music, song and Santa Claus.

Brass musicians will roam the main street, Avenue A, home to many of the participating businesses.

Nine windows, vacant or loaned, have new holiday displays courtesy of local artists, according to Lisa Davol of the Turners Falls RiverCulture program, a partner in the event.

Caroling begins at 6 p.m., with carolers asked to meet at 5:45 p.m. at The Rendezvous bar, just off the avenue at 78 Third Street.

Rendezvous co-owner Christopher Janke said all are welcome to participate and they have some song books although carolers are free to bring their own.

“Just show up and dress warm and we’ll go out and go singing,” Janke said.

Janke said the bar has organized carolling every year for the past five years, and now coordinates to coincide with the “Wonderful Night” festivities.

Ristorante DiPaolo, 166 Avenue A, plans a warming fire pit with mulled wine for sale, and kids eat free at Jake’s Tavern, 66 Avenue A, from 5 to 9 p.m.

“The purpose is to support local businesses and also to remind people what a charming, walk-able village Turners Falls is,” MacLean said.

MacLean co-owns industrial antiques, art and curiosities shop Loot, 62 Avenue A, and again helped to coordinate the event begun last year by Nina Rossi of Nina’s Nook art shop, 125 Avenue A, and painter and photographer Ariel Jones.

MacLean said the event this year was organized by herself, Rossi, RiverCulture and the Montague Business Association.

The evening will also serve to stock the shelves at the Franklin Area Survival Center’s food pantry, with donations of canned goods and nonperishables collected at the Shea, or at any participating business, MacLean said.

Powertown Pop Up Shop, a mostly local, mostly art consignment shop at the corner of Avenue A and Third Street will also be open, uncharacteristically for the weekend shop and with world chamber music trio The Pioneer Consort performing from 6 to 8 p.m.

For the cinematically inclined, the Brick House Community Resource Center, 24 Third St., will screen the 2009 Pixar animated feature “Up” beginning at
6 p.m.

The event’s Facebook page, searchable as “It’s A Wonderful Night in Turners Falls,” includes a map of participating business, and MacLean said these will also be available throughout the event.

RiverCulture’s website, www.turnersfallsriverculture.org, also offers a schedule of events and specials.

Davol said the hope is to build the event to a monthly third-Thursday string of similar events.

“The hope is if we do this every month it will become a platform for people to show their art and enliven the downtown on a more frequent basis,” Davol said, and a night in February and one in May are already planned.

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