Letter: WOW thanks volunteers, community

To the Editor,

As we move further into 2021, I must take a moment to wish you all the happiest, safest, healthiest new year possible.

Westfield on Weekends (WOW) has begun planning for the next 12 months of programming and as we do, I have to note the contributions of all who helped to make this past holiday season as bright as it was, despite the dark days we continue to endure.

DecemberFest 2020 was characterized by a roster of creative programming that reflected the times in which we live.  Rather than our traditional in-person events, we chose to use the drive-by and virtual templates that WOW’s PumpkinFest used in October and November of last year.

Our sincere thanks to our DecemberFest major sponsor Westfield Bank and to sponsors:  Lisa Olesak-Sullivan of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage; Roots Athletic Center; Reminder Publishing; and Joanne Papadamitriou of Keller Williams Realty, as well as the Westfield Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, whose support and understanding provided grant funding.

Our Holiday Lights Challenge, ably overseen by Jason Polan, presented more than 55 homes, colorfully decorated for the season. It proved to be a particularly popular, as evidenced by the more than 18,000 views of the map on the WOW website.   We are grateful to everyone who placed their house on display, either just for fun or as part of the lights challenge and we congratulate our winners: 24 Plantation (First Place); 28 Belleview (Second Place) and 11 Sunrise (Third Place).

The third annual Tree Jubilee, was put together by the indomitable Lisa Sunderland Burns with a hardworking team: James-Johnson-Corwin; Hope Tremblay; Mike Burns; Sue Jegelwicz; Ciara, Jennifer and Connor Johnson-Corwin; Jean and Bernie Rosenblum; Lesley and Paul Sporbert; and Sandra Sunderland. It made its debut at Roots Athletic Center and online with 31 festive trees and wreaths provided by the generosity of several community partners.

For our wonderland of trees, we thank the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield; City Councilor Mike Burns and Lisa Sunderland Burns; Columbia Manufacturing Company; Firtion-Adams Funeral Services; James Homan; Kiwanis of Westfield; Marion Kraus and Barbara Wojick; Peoples Bank, Westfield Office; Roots Aquatic & Fitness Center; St. John’s Lutheran Church WinGs; Savage Arms; Shortstop Bar & Grill; Paul & Lesley Sporbert; Ken Stomski of KS Solutions; The Sullivan Family; Wagner Rug & Flooring; Reminder Publishing/The Westfield News; and the Westfield Firefighter’s Association Local #1111.


We are also grateful to the following for the festive wreaths: The Cannabis Connection; Custom Homes by Hamelin Framing; COBB of River Valley; Hair by JessZ; Hometown Construction; JoJo’s Rustic Remnants; Sonia Kulig of Humblebee Handmade; City Councilor William Onyski & Family; the Sunderland Family; Westfield Gas + Electric; Westfield Homeless Cat Protect (WHCP); and City of Westfield Veterans Services.


It is important to note that the Jubilee would not have been possible without the collaboration and support of Frank and Keri Demarinis and Ryan Lavner of Roots Athletic Center and Fran Smith of Reminder Publications, who welcomed us to a wonderful facility for community events that must be seen to believe.

This year, WOW was pleased to underline the value of WCPC, Westfield’s community television station. WCPC helped to produce “Magic on the Air” that made Channel 15 the station to watch during the season. Heartfelt thanks to Peter Cowles, the City’s expert Media Specialist and ace volunteer Ken Stomski who spent countless hours, assembling, filming, editing and scheduling more than 25 hours of DecemberFest programming.  Also, a thank you to former WOW President Jay Pagluica of JP’s Sound and Lights, whose work added gleam and glow to the shows.

Thanks to those who made our programming so special: The Berkshire Theatre Group; Bill Parks, Mallory Wray and the talented students of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield; Korey Bruno and the Westfield High School Show Choir; fine artist Shannon Chiba; Mayor Don Humason; Patrick Kennedy and Westfield High School musical ensembles; the Westfield Theatre Group; wonderful storyteller Kathi Palmer;  ace musicians Scott Sasanecki and Ed Orgill;  and the chaplains of Westfield State, Father Warren Savage, Rev. Bruce Arbour; Sheikh Mirza Yawar Baig; Rev. Barbara Hesse; Rev. Rev. Kathleen  O’Goley; R Cantor Colman Reaboi, and  Rev. Nancy Webb Stroud.

For those who may have missed Magic on the Air, many of the shows have been archived, thanks to Ken Stomski as “Decemberfest 2020 Westfield Community Programming” on YouTube.

Finally, a thank you to WOW’s volunteer Heidi Whelan and our graphic designer Tara Vermette of TruBluGrafix for all their work and patience, as they made our PR and social media presentations so eye-catching and thanks to the kindest landlord possible, Ann Lentini of DOMUS, who has helped us to maintain the WOW Creative Center at 105 Elm St.

Personally, I am grateful to my partners in community, WOW Vice President Barbara Trant and Event Director Jason Polan, whose time spent coordinating DecemberFest with me, made collaboration fun. And I must also toast WOW’s other board members (Amber Danahey, Sue Jegelwicz, James Johnson-Corwin, Ed Orgill, Lisa Sunderland Burns, Ken Stomski, Jerry Tomasko, and Hope Tremblay), whose wisdom, creativity and friendship are the best antidotes to COVID times.

Indeed, 2020 was a challenging year for us all and as a non-profit that seeks to celebrate community and diversity by bringing folks together, it was disappointing and disheartening.  But we have managed to survive and are more than hopeful that the new year will bring us back, stronger and better than ever.

Check us out at westfieldonweekends.com and on Facebook for some more good times from Westfield on Weekends and if you wish to donate to WOW, just text “GIVE” to 1 (833) 500-9560 with our appreciation.  Please stay masked, socially distant and get vaccinated as soon as possible and know that there is a big “Welcome Back, Westfield!” in-person celebration in all of our futures.

Happy and Healthy 2021!!!

Bob Plasse                                                                                                                                                                                              WOW Co- President









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