Posted by boston.com November 22, 2013 10:00 AM
By Samantha Laine, YourTown Correspondent
The Somerville Arts Council invites holiday lovers to mark their calendars for December 2, as tickets for the 17th annual Illuminations Tour go on sale. The tours will take place on Saturday, December 14 and will tour East and West Somerville in search of the best holiday light displays in the city.
This annual celebration of the holiday season takes participants on a trolley tour while also offering choral music, hot cocoa, cookies, and fellowship at Somerville City Hall. Once again, Somerville Bicycle Committee will be offering a bike tour of lights in conjunction with the trolley tours.
Gregory Jenkins, the director of the Somerville Arts Council, said people look forward to this event all year. He said that it has grown from one trolley bus in its first year to now eight trolleys, with each one taking multiple trips. He said it’s one of the things that make Somerville unique.
“It reflects the amazing creativity of the Somerville community,” Jenkins said. “I think it’s a great thing. For very little money you can bring your kids and family, get hot cocoa, listen to a choir, and go on a tour.”
Jenkins said that another great part about the tours is that participants have the opportunity to learn more about their neighbors that are participating in the light displays. He said every year, the SAC interviews the families to get their back story on why they decorate, their hopes in decorating, and what is important to them about the holiday season. He said it’s a great way to connect to the community.
“Once you start to get to know the families, why they’re doing it, and who they’re doing it for, it’s really reflects on who’s living in the community. It’s very distinctive and very Somerville-owned,” Jenkins said. “Once you get to know the people, it’s their own story, and that’s what we’re trying to convey.”
Jenkins said that it is also a great chance to learn some of Somerville’s history. SAC brings in about 30 local historians to run the tours. While sharing the stories of each of the light displays, the tour guides also point out different historical buildings and where significant people have lived.
Bob “Monty” Doherty said he has been an Illuminations Tour guide for about 15 years. He said that since Somerville has a constantly changing demographic and population, the tours are different every year. He said that he was a firefighter in Somerville for 38 years, and that in that time he learned a lot about the city.
“I come across a lot of stories and observations about the city. I love the city,” Doherty said. “When I talk about it [during the tours], I just let that flow.”
In addition to the tours, the Somerville Community Chorus will also provide entertainment at city hall wall participants wait for their tours. There will also be crafts and other activities to engage children.
Jenkins said that the event sells out every year, so people should mark their calendars to get tickets as soon as possible. He said that in spite of tickets selling out, it still doesn’t stop some holiday fanatics from participating in the tour.
“We get to a point where when tickets are sold out, people will follow the trolley in their own cars,” Jenkins said.
Tickets for the Illuminations Tour will be available for sale on December 2 at Blue Cloud Gallery, located at 713 Broadway. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and seniors.
The tours will take place on December 14 from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Participants in the Somerville Illuminations Bicycle Tour should meet at city hall at 5:50 p.m., and the tour will leave promptly at 6 p.m. and last about an hour. Costumes are encouraged and there is a suggested $5 donation.
For more information, visit the Somerville Art Council’s website.