Newton residents lined up at Hyde Community Center on Saturday for hot soup, live music, and appearances from costumed characters—all part of the second annual WinterFEST, organized and hosted by Newton Community Pride (NCP).
“Everything is free, accessible, open to all, family friendly, and we want everyone to just have a great time,” NCP Executive Director Blair Lesser Sullivan said.
NCP is a nonprofit that organizes arts and culture programs in the City of Newton.
The success of last year’s WinterFEST in partnership with Hyde Community Center led to its return, according to the chair of NCP’s Board of Directors, Gloria Gavris.
“They have been doing a soup social for about two decades, and so we partnered with them last year to bring it outdoors with live music and more activities,” Gavris said. “The community just loved it. It was a big success, so we’re back again for the second year.”
Newton was inspired by WinterFEST events in neighboring towns, according to Sullivan. She said her background in arts and culture inspired her to help organize the event.
“I just have an affinity for bringing the community together,” she said.
Newton resident Christiane Kaden said she brought her family to WinterFEST to better engage with the neighborhood.
“We live right around the corner and we have a little kid,” Kaden said. “We feel it is important because we want to connect to the people who live around us.”
New to Newton, resident Lori Jones said WinterFEST and other NCP events have facilitated a smooth transition into the city for herself and her family.
“We moved from New York City about a year and a half ago, and this has been a really cool way for us to get to know the neighborhood,” Jones said. “All these different community parties and gatherings have been really fun for us. I think it’s a big part of community building.”
This type of community building is the driving force behind NCP, according to Gavris.
“Newton Community Pride has been around for about 35 years here in the city, and it’s a fabulous organization that brings the community together with free and accessible programming,” Gavris said. “We really look at it as an opportunity to build community and get people together.”
Newton resident Yu Wang said she particularly enjoyed the food.
“The music and the soup,” Wang said. “Oh, and ice cream, too.”
Gavris said she was pleased with both WinterFEST’s turnout and NCP’s dedicated planning of the event.
“Newton Community Pride is here to serve the community,” Gavris said. “We love just seeing everyone come out and have fun.