Metro, Newton

Newton Community Pride Hosts Third Annual WinterFEST

Newton Community Pride hosted WinterFEST this weekend, a festival including events ranging from soup dinners to ice sculpture demonstrations, providing community fun during one of the year’s coldest months. 

Newton Community Pride is a 35-year-old local nonprofit organization that began WinterFEST three years ago with hopes of bringing community members together in the wake of the pandemic, according to Newton Community Pride co-chair Meryl Kessler.

“People are excited to interact with the community no matter the weather,” Kessler said. “We’ve experienced great turnout for these events this weekend.” 

The Soup Social, one of the WinterFEST events, was particularly successful. Lines for the social stretched around the corner of the Hyde Community Center, where Newton Community Pride hosted the event, and down the block. 

“We have a huge turnout for the Soup Social,” Kessler said. “A dozen restaurants donate soup, Cabot’s Ice Cream donates ice cream. Our thing is events that are free and accessible.”  

Local volunteers served the soup with recyclable bowls and silverware as visitors waited patiently in line. Soup and ice cream, however, are not the only elements of the Soup Social. The Timba Messengers, a Boston-based Latin jazz and salsa band, brought extra energy to the space. 

Blair Lesser Sullivan, executive director of Newton Community Pride, said they brought the Timba Messengers back for WinterFEST after they performed at the Linda Plaut Festival of the Arts over the summer. Along with the band, costumed characters walked along the grass, entertaining attendees.

“We’ve been coming to WinterFEST for the past couple of years,” Newton resident Laura Horst said. 

Horst said she enjoyed the festival, citing how refreshing it was to be outside during the winter. 

“We love the music and cocoa,” Horst said. “My kids love it too.” 

WinterFEST put on events for all ages, including a walk through Cold Spring Park Saturday morning, ice sculpture making, and plow painting. The weekend ended with a dance party led by Josh and the Jamtones, a locally based band for kids. 

“We’re just really excited to be offering these free programs,” Sullivan said. “We’re excited for the attendees and we hope everyone enjoys the public art pieces, the band, the characters, and the glow in the dark.”

January 28, 2024