The holiday spirit was in the air Saturday as children dressed as Christmas characters held the reigns to a parade of horses with bright holiday colors gleaming off the sunny sky.
This was the first ever Holiday Hoedown at the Gilchrist Farm near Saugus where hundreds of people kicked off the holiday season in a nontraditional way.
“We wanted some opportunity for people to engage in the farm in a different way,” said Monica Gilchrist, the organizer of the event. “We always joke that it’s the reindeer games since Santa’s coming.”
Since 2010, children and families have come together at Gilchrist Farm for the parade of horses and costume contest but this is the first year the extravaganza was open to the public.
And the Gilchrist family sought to make it well worth the public’s time to come out. There was face painting, arts and crafts, vendors selling home made goods, a wagon ride on a John Deere and all of that was just the icing on the cake.
The reason Gilchrist organized this event goes much deeper than holiday spirit. Her grandmother, Jean Sawyer, owned the farm in the 1960s and always welcomed people to come and see her alternative way of living.
She passed away in 2000 and Gilchrist took up the mantle in 2010 with the same desire to embrace and welcome the public.
Dwanna Lousberg, Sawyer’s daughter, is also amazed at the scale to which her daughter has embraced the public. Sawyer welcomed people to her farm but never to the same extent that Gilchrist does now.
“I think (Sawyer) is smiling down from heaven…when she sees all the happy people,” said Lousberg.
Among these happy people was 8-year-old Levi Banks who attended the hoedown with his grandmother, Dianne Robinson.
Up until six months ago Banks had been in and out of foster care his entire life. He never
got to sit on Santa Claus’s lap and tell him what he wanted for Christmas until Saturday.
His excitement was clear for the world to see, as he could not stop dancing with the pleasure of experiencing the holiday spirit for the first time.
“This is like his first Christmas,” said Robinson.