‘Tis the season to give thanks, send well wishes to armed forces

November 19, 2018


By: Larry McHugh


It is Thanksgiving time again in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, not simply because of the great turkey dinner with all the trimmings, but because it inspires reflection and a true appreciation of what is important in life. I am blessed with a wonderful family, led by my wife Patty, and a network of friends that truly has my back. It is an honor and a privilege for me to serve as president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, a dynamic business organization with over 2,250 members that employ over 50,000 people. I am thankful for my staff at the chamber who works hard on behalf of the business community in Middlesex County on a daily basis. We have a dedicated Board of Directors, led by Chairman Jay Polke, which truly makes Middlesex County a great place to live, work and play. I am thankful to be a citizen of the United States of America, a place where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in writing. I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope everyone keeps in mind those who are less fortunate during the holiday season.


It is hard to believe, but the 33rd Annual Holiday on Main Street, presented by Pratt & Whitney, is here.  Festivities begin this Friday at 4 p.m., with free wagon rides on Main Street.  In front of the Middlesex Chamber, the Kiwanis Club of Middletown members will be selling Hot Pretzels & Popcorn, and in front of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Middletown High School Crew Team will be selling Hot Chocolate, Coffee & Desserts.  There will be three Tree Lightings, a holiday parade up Main Street, and a number of other activities. There will be a break while the Tree Lighting is happening on the South Green, and the rides will resume after the Tree Lighting at Middlesex Chamber.


The first Tree Lighting, set to take place at 6 p.m., will illuminate the big tree on the South Green and will be led by Mayor Dan Drew and Santa Claus. Also on hand on the South Green will be the Middletown High School Chorus, the Woodrow Wilson Middle School 7 and 8th Grade Chorus, and the Keigwin Middle School Chorus. Last year, over 2,500 people were able to enjoy the holiday sights and sounds on the South Green, and even more are expected this year. The Carol Sing will begin at 5 p.m. prior to the tree lightings. After the tree is lit on the South Green, there will be a parade up Main Street, led by the Middletown High School Marching Band, the Woodrow Wilson Middle School 8th Grade Band, and Santa Claus, to the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce where the tree on the roof will be lit at 6:15 p.m. for the second lighting of the evening. Immediately following the tree lighting, there will be free pictures with Santa, and wagon rides for the whole family until 8 p.m.  At 8:15 p.m., festivities will take place in front of Eli Cannon’s Tap Room at 695 Main Street highlighted by the third, and final Tree Lighting of the night. Santa will arrive to light the tree, and elves will be on hand to provide all children with complimentary popcorn, cookies, hot chocolate and other treats. Each Tree Lighting is free of charge to the public. Holiday on Main Street continues on Saturday, November 24, and December 1, 8, and 15. 


This Saturday’s event will feature The Civitan Club of Middletown selling Popcorn and Hot Pretzels in front of the chamber, and holiday music played by Harvest Woods Audio. The Fun Train will offer free rides up and down the sidewalk, and families will have the opportunity to take free horse and wagon rides, use the Holiday Photo Booth located in front of the Holy Trinity Church, enjoy performances by The Connecticut Yuletide Carolers as they perform up and down Main Street, and meet Santa. At 11:30 a.m., Holiday Story Time will take place at The Inn at Middletown with Maisy Mouse and Mayor Dan Drew. A Kung Fu Demonstration by Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy will be held at 1:30 p.m. at Vinnie’s Jump and Jive, and a Pet Food Drive will be held throughout the day in front of Holy Trinity Church to benefit the homeless pets at Middletown Animal Control. Santa’s Mailbox will be in front of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce from November 20 through December 8. Children’s names and addresses should be on the letter so Santa can respond accordingly. Parking for Holiday on Main Street is free in city parking lots only. Parking is not free on Main Street.  For all of the details on events and activities, please visit www.holidayonmain.com. We hope to see you downtown!


Looking ahead to next week, the chamber team is ready to go for our Business After Work Networking Reception at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam on Wednesday, Nov. 28th. The Business After Work event will feature the Central Business Bureau’s 2018 Festival of Wreaths Silent Auction. Beautifully decorated wreaths will be displayed for viewing and bidding until the auction closes at 6:30 p.m. The funds that are raised will benefit the Annual Holiday on Main Street, presented by Pratt & Whitney, and the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program. Liberty Bank annually sponsor, and donates the artificial wreaths for chamber member businesses to decorate, and we certainly appreciate that continued support. Our members and their guests always look forward to the delicious spread of food and drink provided by the Riverhouse team, along with the outstanding networking opportunities that the event provides. We certainly look forward to a fun evening in Haddam on that Wednesday night, and I want to once again thank Owner Jim Bucko, General Manager Hattie Donner, and the entire Riverhouse team for hosting this outstanding event.


Before closing, I want to remind everyone of two important workshops scheduled for December. On Tuesday morning, December 11 from 8-10:00 a.m., the Key Bank Workshop series continues with a session titled “Time Management, The Two Faces of Time Management.”  Presented by Jim Jackson of the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, the workshop will cover practical techniques that you can use to immediately gain control over our day and more effectively manage interruptions and distractions. The second workshop will take place on December 12 from 5:30-7:00 p.m., at the Community Health Center on Main Street in Middletown. This workshop is titled, “Accidentally on Purpose: When Drug Abuse Turns Suicidal.” This is a difficult topic but it is a very important one for the business community, and for the community at large. I want to thank our partners in this effort, Middlesex Hospital, Wesleyan University, the Community Health Center, and Rushford for all of their great work and support. More information on both events is available on www.middlesexchamber.com, and I will continue to provide updates in this column as we get closer.


In closing, I ask once again that members and other interested parties save the date of Wednesday, December 19 for an important chamber morning in Cromwell. We look forward to welcoming as keynote speaker for the final time, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at our annual Governor’s Breakfast at the Red Lion Hotel. Gov. Malloy has appeared at our December Member Breakfast Meeting in every year of his administration, as have all of our sitting governors, going back to the administration of Governor William A. O’Neill in the 1980’s. Gov. Malloy has given eight years of his life to the State of Connecticut and he deserves our respect and appreciation. We look forward to thanking him for his service at this important chamber event on Dec. 19. I also appreciate the support of Eversource, who not only sponsors this breakfast meeting on an annual basis, but supports a number of other chamber programs and initiatives. The company will also sponsor an important workshop immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting which will focus on emergency preparedness and economic resilience. Our working title for this event is “Is Your Business and Community Resilient to Serious Incidents or Disasters?” Speakers will stress the importance of developing an Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity Plan, and will provide some important information on the local preparedness infrastructure in Middlesex County. More information will be available in the coming weeks, but please save the date for this important morning.


Happy Thanksgiving, Middlesex County, and as you enjoy the holiday, please keep in mind the brave men and women of our Armed Forces serving at home and around the globe.


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