Hadley’s Celebration of Lights will ring in season

A live tree is lit to begin the second annual Celebration of Lights held at Hopkins Memorial Park gazebo in Hadley in 2018.

A live tree is lit to begin the second annual Celebration of Lights held at Hopkins Memorial Park gazebo in Hadley in 2018. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO


Staff Writer

Published: 11-21-2023 1:26 PM

HADLEY — After celebrations for the 350th anniversary of Hopkins Academy in 2014 were complete, the committee formed to mark the occasion used its remaining $14,000 to seed the creation of the Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation.

Almost a decade later, the foundation, which raises money to support the town’s educators, continues to organize the annual Celebration of Lights event, set for Saturday at 5 p.m. at Hopkins Academy Memorial Park on Route 9.

At the park, next door to Hopkins, a gazebo that houses a historic bell from the Russell School has been decorated for the season and it, along with a memorial tree, will be lit as Girl Scouts perform holiday songs. Refreshments, including hot chocolate from the North Hadley Sugar Shack, cookies from Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery, and doughnuts from Dunkin’, will be served.

For Joseph Pelis, the foundation’s president, the seventh Celebration of Lights will raise awareness of the foundation and raise money through the sale of various merchandise, including shirts and hats depicting asapargus and with the “Grown in Hadley” slogan.

“All the money we raise goes to fund school projects,” Pelis said.

Those include things outside the budget at Hadley Elementary and Hopkins Academy, such a class trip to New York City and buying equipment. The foundation is also collecting signatures to seek additional financial support from Florence Savings Bank.

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The town’s Fire And Police departments will be collecting gifts for children at Shriners Children’s New England and Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield.

Pelis said that even though he and his wife, Judy, the foundation’s treasurer, are longtime Hatfield residents, the sentiment expressed by the “Grown in Hadley” phrase resonates with them.

“We really enjoy doing this,” Pelis said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.