I've stayed closer to home this year and have spent a lot of time learning to appreciate the area that nearly 25 years ago I chose to call home. It's funny how after a couple of decades somewhere you start to whine and complain about things and all but forget what drew you to the place in the beginning. So, it is with great sincerity that I talk about the one place that is special in my heart, and especially at Christmas. Torrington, Connecticut; my home.
I love Christmas and so does this crazy city. Torrington is this amazing combination of a bunch of Italian folks, their relatives and friends, a few thousand wards of the state, a bunch of people who moved here from the Caribbean and southern Asian countries, and some of us that just like the view most of the time. We have too many bars, too many liquor stores, and too much pizza; but this town has some amazing things.
For one thing, we are home to a thriving art community. Yarn Bomb was the project last summer that took over the entire city. Everywhere you went there were yarn creations. They were even at the local synagogue and the park. There are several art galleries in town and we even have a place where you can go and spend the evening painting with friends. We also have a musical venue called Performance Hub that has all kinds of interesting music performances and projects. We have a kids museum as well which is a great place to hang out with your kids.
We are the home of The Warner Theater too. This place has all kinds of entertainment throughout the year and does four musicals each year that are civic theater and frankly some great productions. It's partner is the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts. This is a performing arts school that does focus on dance, but there are other topics studied there too. This conglomerate is the Northwest Corner's artistic center. If you do happen to come to town for a visit, however, there are also many other locales around us. There's the Infinity Theater in Norfolk, and the Thomaston Opera House in Thomaston to name a couple. There are a lot of arts in Connecticut's Northwest Hills.
This town has some quirky businesses, some beautiful churches, and a spectacular Victorian Park. It's scenic around here. Now, I know, I'm the first person to say that New Englanders don't always put out the welcome mat or want to make new friends; but this time of year really brings out the best in people here. People give constantly here during the holidays. There are food drives, toy drives, the Salvation Army and a whole bunch of other stuff going on. Coats for kids, warm the children, and so much more. Torrington is a city with some problems, and we all like to help with them when we can. We have had entire tent cities among us here. We do have a housing and unemployment issue. We have drug problems and all kinds of stuff. The amazing thing is that despite all that, it's not a dangerous place to live. It's not an ugly place to live. I can still walk right down main street in the middle of the night and it doesn't make me the least bit uncomfortable. It's an odd little city, but it's comfortable, and the pros outweigh the cons.
Torrington has a lot of restaurants, and the majority of them sell pizza. The second best seller is Chinese food, and then you have some others like Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Irish. There are any number of bars to keep you drinking, and liquor stores on almost every corner if you need more. We are a shopping hub with all the discount stores you'd hope to see. We also have trains everywhere. It's a thing for now. We were home to a college baseball team that played at our beautiful baseball stadium, Fuessenich Park; but I guess they won't be here anymore. It's a shame. We used to go to games whenever we got a chance. They do still have music concerts in the beautiful Coe Park in the summertime.
Torrington is home to three state parks; Burr Pond, John A. Minetto, and Sunnybrook. They are beautiful parks and great places to visit. We have Mohawk Ski Resort just up the road for you winter people; and Ski Sundown is not far away either.
But I bring up my lovely quirky home at Christmas for one reason and that is that we do Christmas better than most here. One of the reasons for that is Christmas Village. This is not something that a local mall puts up at Christmas. This is an entire village that is only open during Christmas time yet is completely built for Christmas and so that the kids can have an amazing place to go and see Santa Clause. There are several buildings in Christmas Village. There's a toy workshop with elves. There are live reindeer in the stables. There are sleighs and toys, and hot chocolate for everyone. I took my son here every year when he was young, and it was one of the best places I ever saw for visiting Santa. Locally, the place is famous and it's lovely, beautiful and warm on the inside. New England's cold will get you between the buildings, but we're hearty people and we don't care about a little cold. It's a great place to visit, even if you don't have small children; but it's spectacular if you do have small children.
Our other Christmas hot spot is celebrating 35 years this year. It's the Christmas House. This is a private home, and I've heard that the owner isn't necessarily a jolly old soul, but inside and out this place is Christmas on display. Every evening during the holiday season these folks open their home for tours and the price of admission is only a food donation. That's right, it's for charity. Don't discount this. It takes these people nearly three months to set up for this event each year. That's dedication, and it's a great activity during the holidays.
So, welcome to my town. Most of the year we're just a bunch of overworked cranky people, but Christmas brings out the best in most of the people here. We love to celebrate, decorate, and donate. Driving around town is almost as entertaining during the holidays as watching the Nutcracker at the Warner Theater. So, if you've done all the rest, try coming to my town for Christmas. We'll show you some good old fashioned Norman Rockwell style fun. We go sledding, we put on the Nutcracker, we have a Christmas Village, we have a Christmas House, and we have an extremely festively decorated town. So, come see me in my town and join in on a great time at Christmas. Merry Christmas and Enjoy!