by Chris Richard
Director of Tourism
Some of the things we do in Fairhaven during December are long-time traditions and some are newer events on their way to becoming traditions.
The first event on this month’s calendar is one that has been repeated year after year for quite a long time. It’s the Lighting of Benoit Square by the North Fairhaven Improvement Association, which is taking place this year on Friday, December 1, at 6:30 p.m.
The NFIA decorated the square last weekend as they have been doing since the 1950s. Some of the decorations have changed, but the format is pretty similar. There will be the singing of carols as the lights are lighted. Then Santa will arrive on an antique fire truck to visit with the children and hand out treats. After Friday, the square will brighten North Fairhaven every night until after New Year’s Day.
The following weekend is the Old-Time Holiday, which will be held for the twentieth time. (Yep, it was first started in 1998.) You can find details about it elsewhere, including at FairhavenTours.com, on Facebook, and in the pages of the local papers, including this one. I won’t repeat the whole thing here. Please do come out on Saturday, December 9, though, because there is a lot going on in the center of town.
One week after Christmas itself the annual Polar Plunge will take place at Fort Phoenix on Monday, January 1, at 10:00 a.m. This year the theme for the plunge is “Your Favorite Disney Movie.” The proceeds from pledges made during the plunge will benefit Dollars for Scholars in memory of victims of domestic violence. There will be a limited number of T-shirts available to those who pledge $25 or more. On the morning of December 1, there will be changing tents, porta-johns and a warming fire as well as refreshments at the fort. For information, email Kathy Lopes at email@example.com.
What’s going on at the Office of Tourism while all these holiday and year-end events are taking place? Well, believe it or not, it’s already budget season. Department budgets for FY’19 have to be submitted by Friday, December 22. So by then, all of us in Town government need to know what we’re going to need to spend up to a year and a half from now. (Fiscal Year 2019 runs from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.)
These are the budgets that will be voted on at the May 5, 2018, Town Meeting. So if I think I’ll need toner for the laser printer in June 2019, the money for it needs to be in the budget request I turn in three weeks from now. It’s a crazy system, but that’s how it works. Besides payroll for the one and only Office of Tourism employee, the major expenditures in my annual budget are for advertising and for the special events put on by my office. I’m hoping to be able to increase those line items a bit to meet rising costs and to promote the town more than I’m doing now.
Last month I went to a meeting about a bike share program that could be instituted in town sometime in the future. This is when a company has bicycles available at different locations around town that people can unlock using a cell phone app and pay by the hour to rent them. A program like this is being started in New Bedford soon.
The meeting I went to was with a different company with a somewhat different set-up. It was an interesting idea, but there were a few details the company really needs to iron out before we’ll be seeing this here in Fairhaven, I think. Developing such a program is on the list of priorities set by the Board of Selectmen, though, and the Bikeway Committee will be looking into different options, I’m sure.
During the last week, there was some filming going on in our area — including here in Fairhaven — for a documentary on the Lizzie Borden case. It will be an episode on a mystery-solving TV series. As you might know, Fairhaven figures into the story a bit because Lizzie’s sister Emma had been staying in town with friends when the Borden murders took place in Fall River in August 1892. In the days following the murders, the owners of the house where Emma was staying were interviewed by police and by a least one newspaper reporter.
On a pretty regular basis we have folks visit because of their interest in the case. A couple of times in the past I have guided tours for groups of “Lizzie Borden people,” and the burial place of a key player in the Borden investigation is visited during the Riverside Cemetery walking tours. I will try to alert you ahead of time when this TV episode airs, but sometime these things slip by me. Fairhaven was recently featured again on an episode of Chronicle and I completely missed it.
That’s about it for now but before closing I must say this. As we proceed through this holiday shopping season, be sure to stop by the many great shops here in town when you’re buying gifts. Virtually all of the restaurants offer gift certificates, too. Shopping in Fairhaven keeps our friends and neighbors employed and contributes to the local economy that in turn keeps our community alive. Developing and supporting the local economy is what the Office of Tourism is all about.
As always, please feel free to pass along your comments or suggestions. You can contact me via email at FairhavenTours@fairhaven-ma.gov, by calling 508-979-4085, or by stopping by the Visitors Center, 141 Main Street. The hours of the Office of Tourism are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a half-hour break around noon. There are some reserved parking spaces in the high school lot closest to the Academy Building.
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