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>A case for Torrington as Connecticut’s Christmas capital

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My 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter “gets” Christmas for the first time this year, and the excitement is building.
She decided that Christmas was finally coming last night when she saw the first real snow of the year. She started singing “Jingle Bells,” and pointed out every set of storefront Christmas lights on our drive through town.
Then we drove by the famous “Christmas House,” and, unplanned, stopped, got a closer look, and went inside. She was blown away, and I was blown away. It was magical, even for an adult, and a stick-with-you-for-a-lifetime experience for a child.
Reading RegisterCitizen.Com later that night, I came to this firm conclusion:
Torrington is the Christmas capital of Connecticut.

Sorry, Bethlehem.
But Torrington has the snow.
Torrington has the Christmas House, which to the unfamiliar, is the home of a private resident who has gone over-the-top nuts decorating the outside and inside of his home with Christmas light displays, Nativity scenes, moving Santa Claus figurines, rooms full of nutcrackers, snow globes, running train sets and more.
Torrington has Christmas Village, which opened for its 63rd year yesterday and features Santa and Mrs. Claus and live reindeer, and has delighted generations of children in Northwest Connecticut.
Torrington has the 1900 Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum, which is decorated in turn-of-the-century Christmas style and offers tours throughout the season.
Torrington has the world-class Nutmeg School of Ballet and its annual production of “The Nutcracker” at the historic and beautiful Warner Theatre.
The Warner Theatre has a bunch of other Christmas programs on the schedule also, including “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and “A Very Merry Doo Wop Spectacular.”
Torrington has the amazing “Christmas Angelicus” concert at Trinity Episcopal Church Dec. 19.
Plus, the downtown and Coe Memorial Park are decked out in lights.
Don’t forget ice skating at Major Besse Field, and one of the best sledding hills around.
And shopping.
Torrington has Christmas shopping opportunities galore. There’s East Main Street, and every big box store you could need, of course, but there are more small business shopping opportunities this year in our beautiful downtown.
Main Street mainstays such as Libby’s Torrington Furniture, one of the best small toy stores in the state, Toy Jam, newcomers such as Barking Dog Guitar Traders and Bender Showrooms, and “shopping experiences” such as Brazen Betties, where you’re bound to see something that presents a unique gift opportunity.
Come for Christmas Village and the Christmas House, enjoy the snowy scenery of the Litchfield Hills and check some hard-to-buy-for people off your shopping list.
And tell me if there’s another community in Connecticut that has this much to offer for Christmas.

Written by mattderienzo

December 6, 2010 at 5:37 pm

>In defense of the Twisters

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>When a businessperson decides to make a new investment in Torrington, what can or should the community, city government and business leaders do to welcome it?
What if that investment was in the downtown, where investment is sorely needed?
What if that investment had the potential to spin off additional business for downtown restaurants and shops by bringing more people into the city for an afternoon or evening of entertainment?
No, I’m not talking about the Warner Theatre, although there’s certainly some parallels considering the grumbling that has taken place recently about its tax-exempt status and its growing downtown footprint.
I’m talking about the Torrington Twisters, its new ownership, and its decision to raise ticket prices this summer.
The Twisters were in desperate need of the energy and businessperson’s approach that new owner Robin Wadsworth has brought to the organization.
If NECBL baseball is going to work in Torrington, it needs to be financially viable. Do the math. It’s a wonder that the team didn’t just shut down years ago with $3 ticket prices.
Charging $6 isn’t going to make anyone money. It’s going to, maybe, keep the team afloat and provide some baseline of funding to reinvest into making Twisters baseball in Torrington a better-known and bigger regional draw for the downtown.
And $6 is still less than the price of a movie, less than most value meals at McDonald’s, less than a beer at Yankee Stadium, less than two gallons of gas, less than a pack of cigarettes.
Yet we have politicians proposing to pull part-time police protection for Twisters games from the Recreation Department budget because the team has the gall to put the ticket price up to a bigger fraction of what it’s worth … and still far below what it would likely take to pay the team’s costs.
Sometimes, while bemoaning the deficit of good things coming to Torrington, we don’t do enough to appreciate and invest in the good things that we already have going for us.
Let’s hope that, in spite of this, the Twisters find a way to make it work in Torrington before another community, say Bristol, Middletown, Westport, or numerous other communities inside Connecticut and elsewhere in New England, realizes the benefit an NECBL baseball team could be to their downtown.

Written by mattderienzo

May 22, 2008 at 4:00 am