BARKHAMSTED - The Riverton Merchant's Association is channeling the ghost of Christmas past with an old-fashioned Christmas celebration.
Dec. 3 and Dec. 4, village merchants are coming together to host Christmas in Riverton, an annual event meant to showcase local businesses and the village's historic charm.
"It's magical, it really is," said Inez Hazen, owner of Rose's Kitchen and president of the Riverton Merchant's Association. "It's pretty and it takes you back to old times for a few hours and it's an awful lot of fun."
Hazen said the village will turn into a "fairy land" for two days, with 500 luminarias lining the sidewalks. The village tree will be lit at 7 p.m. Friday and Santa will be greeting children from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Other attractions include a children's craft workshop, ice carving, a puppet show, horse-drawn carriage rides, glass blowing, caroling and a chili fest.
A wine tour will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. For $20, guests will be given a glass and can sample wines provided by Ledgebrook Spirit Shop at seven stops in the village. A portion of the proceeds from the tour will be donated to the Tiny Tim Fund, a charity that provides financial assistance for children with medical needs. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (860) 738-9958.
Christmas in Riverton was originally designed to coincide with a production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" by the Riverton Congregational Church.
This is the first year in more than 20 years the play is not being performed because of casting issues.
Leslie DiMartino, owner of the Riverton General Store and one of the event coordinators, said the merchant's association wanted to continue the Christmas event despite the show not being performed, as it is expected to return next year.
"If we didn't have this as well as the play, it might have been more difficult to get people back next year," DiMartino said.
The event draws droves of people to the village, and although organizers don't know an exact number of visitors, they estimate it's in the hundreds.
For a full list of events and a walking map of merchants participating in the event, visit www.RivertonCT.com.
Originally appeared Nov. 27, 2010 in the Republican-American.