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From First Landing to First Light Holiday Events on the Outer Cape

by Steve Desroches

Many years ago, Provincetown seemed to shut down right after Labor Day leaving only the hardy year-rounders and nary a visitor until the following late spring. But people began to learn that September and October are golden times to visit, and the tourist season pushed on past Columbus Day. And then Halloween boomed into the fun and fabulous bacchanalian party it’s become. As of late, Provincetown has increasingly become a destination to celebrate the holiday season from November straight through to the New Year. It’s not the huge crowds of summer, and that’s part of the appeal, as Provincetown becomes a bit cozier, but no less fun.

New Year’s Day Fireworks

Before Provincetown celebrates Thanksgiving, November begins this year with the second annual Day of the Dead Performing Arts Festival. Inspired by the Mexican traditions of El Dia de los Muertos, this event takes place on November 2 with a Day of the Dead procession ending at the Provincetown Theater where there will be an ofrenda (a ritual altar) exhibition, performances, and a dance party with music by DJ Emerson’s White Animal Sound. This year’s festival is dedicated to the “Dreamers,” the nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in America as children and whose lives are being thrown into turmoil and fear as the White House threatens to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals which protects Dreamers from deportation and allows them to legally work and study in America. Nearly 80% of DACA recipients are originally from Mexico. Information on local organizations like the Cape Cod Coalition for Safe Communities and others working for human rights will be available.

While Plymouth gets all the attention when it comes to Thanksgiving, the holiday resonates in Provincetown as the first landing spot of the Pilgrims. Local restaurants offer special holiday menus on Thanksgiving, and those looking to work off a few pounds in preparation for the big feast can run in the Provincetown Pilgrim Trot, a 5K fundraising run for the Provincetown Art Association and Museum on Thanksgiving Day.  Of course, the festivities kick off the night before with the annual Lighting of the Pilgrim Monument.

The Lobster Pot Christmas Tree in Lopes Square. Photo: Courtesy of The Popko Family

Earlier this year Provincetown lost a kind and generous soul when artist Julian Popko died on September 24 at the age of 78. An artist, Popko created and installed Bubbles the Whale, the Buoy Bench and a codfish sculpture, all on MacMillan Pier, and works at the Pilgrim Bark Park and in front of the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce. But he is best known as the creator of the Lobster Pot Tree in Lopes Square. Plans are underway to continue this beloved holiday installation, and the lighting is scheduled for Saturday, November 25, as is tradition.

Thirsty Burlington

After giving thanks for what we are grateful for in our lives, it’s time to revel in all Provincetown offers Thanksgiving weekend, with the first of three Drag Bingo events hosted by Tiki Bronstein (a.k.a. Thirsty Burlington) on Friday, November 24, sponsored by the Provincetown Business Guild and held at the Crown and Anchor with the other two on Saturdays, December 2 and December 30.  Also at the Crown is Provincetown’s longest running drag revue Illusions with Giving Thanks, a special holiday show on Saturday night as pianist Jim Brosseau presents Voices of Ptown at the Central House piano bar and the Wave Bar is hopping with the incomparable VJ Tom Yaz, who keeps things jumping the following weekend for Holly Folly, the Guild’s annual LGBTQ holiday festival. That event also features Tis the Season for Giving, a benefit variety show for the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod hosted by Anita Cocktail and Barbie Que on Friday, December 1.

In addition to great shopping and sales, with many retailers open weekends throughout December, Holly Folly also features dance parties at the Crown and the Atlantic House, the Jingle Bell Run with scantily clad sprinters dashing down Commercial Street, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus concert at Town Hall, with a pre-concert champagne reception at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, and the beloved community event Gregg’s Cookie Party at the Porchside Bar at the Gifford House. Rob and Loic over at The Canteen have created a new and popular tradition with their Holiday Market, which runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from December 1 to January 1. Pitch perfect in design, the outdoor, beachfront market hosts food, artisans, and other local vendors as well as performances. Last year they even had a small faux ice rink!

The Provincetown Theater gets into the holiday spirit as they present a production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Thursday through Saturday starting the day after Thanksgiving and running until December 16. The Outer Cape Chorale presents Go for Baroque! Friday, December 8 and Saturday, December 9 at Provincetown Town Hall, featuring works by Vivaldi and Handel, with several selection perfect for the Christmas season.  For more holiday music head down Route 6 to the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT) for their annual Yule for Fuel, a fundraiser for local families in need, December 9, 10 and 16, followed by a community reading of A Christmas Carol on December 17. Wellfleet Preservation Hall also hosts Monica Rizzio’s Holiday Ho-Ho-Ho-Down, a special holiday concert on Saturday, December 16.


Miss Richfield 1981

While we hope for a white Christmas, things begin to heat up just after the 25th as Provincetown celebrates First Light, welcoming in the New Year. And to start 2018 off with a laugh is Miss Richfield 1981, performing her holiday spectacular Fall On Your Knees on Saturday, December 30 at the Sage Inn.  Over at the Crown and Anchor, Illusions, Thirsty Burlington, Bobby Wetherbee, and Suede all present shows throughout the weekend while DJ Chris Racine and VJ Tom Yaz keep the music thumping, as does DJ David LaSalle at the Atlantic House. The Provincetown Theater hosts a Studio 54-themed, three-night New Year’s Gala, while the bravest of the brave take a dip for the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge into chilly Provincetown Harbor, and a new event, the Light Bright Bike Ride, where participants light up their bicycles for a ride through town New Year’s Eve, sponsored by the Provincetown Bicycle Committee. And then on New Year’s Day there will be fireworks over Provincetown Harbor to welcome 2018!

The Polar Bear Plunge

This marks the last issue of Provincetown Magazine for 2017. As always it’s been fun to cover arts, culture, and entertainment on the Outer Cape. Writing about the Cape tip helps to remind us never to take it for granted, as it truly is a special place. We here at Provincetown Magazine can’t wait to see what 2018 has to offer. See you in April!


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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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