Humans and Pets Alike Flock to Windham Harvest Festival

October 21, 2016

 

by Jay Hobson

Hundreds of men, women and children took advantage of the beautiful autumn day to parade their fancifully costumed children and pets while taking in the festive atmosphere with pizza, apple cider and other snacks at the Windham Recreation Department’s Harvest Festival at Griffin Park on Saturday afternoon.

Girl Scouts from Troop 12440 set up a booth to collect donations to help provide homeless cats and dogs a place to live.

“We’re doing this for dogs and cats and other animals so they can have a home and have toys to play with,” said Samantha D., 10.

Girl Scout Leader Rebecca Zachas said that the girls have always liked doing projects that help animals.

“The girls are doing this for a Bronze Award. Their ultimate step is to learn about other animals like horses and pigs; animals that aren’t always thought about being in need,” Zachas said.

Animals were in abundance at the festival, pets dressed in costumes and parading around the grounds to the smiles and laughter of adults and children at the costumes of pirates, Gorton fishermen and even Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

One such pet, an 11-year-old dog named Clay who was dressed as a pirate.  After the parade, he took a breather at the food pavilion with his owner, Tammy Correia.

The food at the pavilion was provided by the Woman’s Service Club of Windham, an organization that, according to volunteer Ruth Bellizzi, provides Thanksgiving food baskets to the needy, fall coat drives, college scholarships, as well as support to the veteran’s hospital and many other causes.

“We are a group of women who do community service and we’ve been in existence for over a hundred years here in Windham. The first meeting was held in the yellow house which is now the Windham Restaurant back in 1911,” Bellizzi said.

A Celtic dance demonstration was given by the Celtic Company Dancers under the direction of Christine Morrison of the Christine Morrison Academy of Dance to the delight of an appreciative audience who clapped along to the music as the children danced Irish jigs and reels.

“This is our first event in the area. I teach primarily down in Chelmsford, Mass. and I started this program four years ago, and now we have enough students to form a performance company,” Morrison said.

Even with all the structured events, a regular schedule of hay rides brought people around the perimeter of the park, and a juggler named Rafi entertained as businesses set up tables for a safe trick-or-treat event for the children.