Johnny’s List of Quirky Boston Events: 11/23/08


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Do something fun and weird this week!


The Week in Weird
Thanksgiving & 1830s Wedding at OSV Nov 27 – Nov 30 Worcester
It’s Thanksgiving time, so here are some fun things to do this week if you’re not planning a big family event, or if you are and want some space. My favorite re-enactment museum, Old Sturbridge Village, is holding some authentic 1830s style Thanksgiving dinners. Call 508-347-0363 immediately because they will sell out. And they’re re-creating an 1830s wedding on Nov 29. Bring any Ocean Spray product label (think cranberry sauce or juice) and get $5 off.
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA.508 347-3362. more
Wined & Dined in 1809 Nov 28 Metro West
Getting in on the action is Gore Place, a historic mansion in Waltham, that’s going back to 1809 with their feast. 7pm.
52 Gore Street, Waltham, MA.781-894-2798. more
Holiday Murder Mystery at the Astors’ Beechwood Mansion Nov 7 – Dec 19 Rhode Island
And if those events are sold out, try the murder mystery dinner in Newport, RI at one of the mansions. The Astor’s Beechwood Mansion is the only Newport destination that re-enacts the Victorian era with live actors. I’ve always wanted to check this out! It’s every Friday @ 7pm through Dec 19. Reserve in advance.
Astors’ Beechwood Mansion, 580 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI. more
A Season of Thanks, in Deerfield Nov 29 Western Mass
Also re-enacted is a 17th century Thanksgiving celebration with old timey handcraft demonstrations and music by the Springfield Society. 11am-4pm.
Hall Tavern Visitor Center, Deerfield, MA.413-775-7127. more
Free Day at Franklin Park Zoo & Stone Zoo Nov 28 Boston Metro
The day after Thanksgiving is free at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and the Stone Zoo in Stoneham. The Franklin Park Zoo especially is nice in the winter, open all year ’round, with both indoor and outdoor locations.
1 Franklin Park Road, Boston, MA & Stoneham, MA.617-541-5466. more
Friday After Thanksgiving Chain Reaction Nov 28 Boston Metro
Also in the city, at MIT, is a contest to build elaborately complicated machines called Rube Goldberg devices. That’s when the candle heats the air going into the balloon, which bursts, surprising the bird who tips over a bucket, sending water onto a cat, who yowls and pulls a string, releasing a bowling ball to roll… you get the idea.
MIT Campus, Rockwell Gymnasium, 120 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA. more
Springfield’s Parade of the Big Balloons Nov 28 Western Mass
Probably the best event after Thanksgiving is the parade in Springfield. The non-metro towns that try the hardest to lure in tourists are Springfield, Quincy, Salem, and Lowell. You can bet whenever an event happens in any of these places, it’ll be good. 11am.
Main Street, Springfield, MA.413-733-3800. more
Sing-a-Long Mary Poppins Nov 28 – Nov 30 Boston Metro
Here are a few performances I thought strange enough to put up top. Mary Poppins, the classic musical is being shown in Arlington along with printed lyrics so you can sing along. How fun!!
Regent Theatre, Arlington, MA. more
BeatleJuice Beatles Tribute Nov 28 – Nov 29 Boston Metro
And I’ve always wanted to see the local Beatles tribute band. I imagine it’s a good look back.
JohnnyD’s, Somerville, MA. more
The Capitol Steps Nov 29 Boston Metro
This one is my top choice, if you are a news junkie. It’s an evening of musical political satire called the Capitol Steps. I’ve seen it and it’s way more cerebral and clever than anything you’ve seen on Saturday Night Live. Definitely check this out! I insist.
Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA.617-496-2222. more
Thanksgiving Eve Contra Dances Nov 27 Boston Metro
Some fun exercise is this folk dance in Watertown. I’ve been to many contra dances, which are line dances meant to facilitate people meeting each other, and they tend to attract intelligent and classy people. It’s easy to pick up and, unlike ballroom dancing, if you do it wrong you just laugh and get back in place and nobody seems to mind. Highly recommended.
Church, 80 Mount Auburn St, Watertown, MA. more
Gobble Gobble Gobble Road Race Nov 27 Boston Metro
For those who are already healthy, 4-mile road race for charity, which begins and ends at The Burren. 9am. If you want to join in, you must sign up in advance.
The Burren, 247 Elm St., Somerville, MA. more
Annual Cold Turkey Plunge Nov 27 Southern Mass
And here’s the worst exercise possible. There’s nothing like exposing your body to extremes to break down your health. Insane people will be dipping into the ocean at Nantucket Island and running right back out! Apparently it benefits charity. Thanksgiving morning at 10am. Nantucket Athenaeum. 508-228-1110 ext 107.
Children’s Beach, Harborview Way, Nantucket Island, MA. more

Also Fun
Fall Festival @ Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary Nov 28 Southern Mass
How can Martha’s Vinyard compete? With an event that confuses November with October: the last Fall Festival of the year.
Martha’s Vinyard, MA. more
Gingerbread House & Cookie Nights at 75 Chestnut Nov 28 – Dec 20 Boston Metro
A local restaurant is having a ginger bread house making workshop throughout the season, as well as “cookie nights” every Tuesday which are not for those on a diet.
75 Chestnut Street, Boston, MA. more
Wenham Museum’s Gingerbread Contest Nov 28 – Dec 14 North Shore
This one’s the one to see though! It’s a gingerbread house contest, with all kinds of surprisingly large and intricate displays, include one with model trains. I’ve been to the Wenham Museum and it’s one of these New England-y places in the middle of nowhere with a world class attitude and really worth a visit.
132 Main Street, Wenham, MA. more
Castleberry Fair – Wilmington Nov 28 – Nov 30 Northern Mass
OK! Time for the inexorable merchant events. I have tried to select good ones that have some “festival” about them rather than “flea market” or “corporate mall”. So here’s yet another holiday crafts & foods fair. See Web site for coupon.
Shriner’s Auditorium, Wilmington, MA. more
Cultural Survival Bazaar Nov 28 – Dec 14 Boston Metro
This one I’ve actually been to, and they really do have inexpensive arts and crafts from all over the world. But you won’t meet any artists, just merchants. Nov 24-25, 10am-6pm, Cambridge College, 1000 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA. Dec 1-2, 10am-6pm, Episcopal Divinity School, 5 Phillips Place, Cambridge, MA. Dec 8-9, 11am-7pm, Hynes Convention Center, Boston.
Various Metro Locations, Boston, MA. more
Faneuil Hall Marketplace Bellringers Nov 29 – Dec 20 Boston Metro
Boston’s tourist mecca is Fanueil Hall, a place as a resident I would normally avoid avoid avoid. However, they do have fun events there. One is this handbell performance. Saturdays, Nov 29-Dec 20. 12pm & 2pm outside the West End between Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. Bad weather: in Quincy Market, top floor.
Faneuil Hall, Boston, MA.617-523-1300. more

Ho Ho Holidays
TubaChristmas Concert at Fanueil Hall Nov 29 Boston Metro
This one’s even more fun. It’s a concert with over 200 tubas! 2pm. And other shows this month in Ayer, New Bedford, Shelburne Falls, Worcester: see website.
Boston, MA. more
Trellis Lighting at Christopher Columbus Park Nov 24 Boston Metro
Also in Boston is this tree lighting event. I’ve never understood tree lighting. Seriously, you flick a switch, so what? But they’ll have 50,000 lights, music performances, and free hot chocolate and pastries. Yum. 5:30 to 6:30pm.
Christopher Columbus Park, Boston, MA. more
City of Lights Parade – Lowell Nov 29 Northern Mass
Out there competing for your tourism dollar is the City of Lowell, with a parade. 12-4 Art stroll, (i.e. buy stuff!). 4:30pm. Holiday sing-a-long led by Santa. 6:30 Parade of lights.
Merrimack & Central Streets, Lowell, MA. more
Quincy Christmas Parade, Lighting, Santa Nov 28 – Nov 30 South Shore
Quincy is spacing theirs out, with a lighting ceremony Nov 28 with 10,000 lights, Santa arriving by parachute Nov 29, and a parade Nov 30. It’s more of a draw if you put all this stuff together into one day, in my opinion.
Quincy, MA.617-773-3317. more
Santa Parade and Fireworks – Medway Nov 29 – Nov 30 Worcester
5pm. Parade starts on Holliston Street (near Medway Middle School) and ends at Choate Park on Route 109. Then 6:30pm fireworks over Choate Pond. Santa. Participatory holiday carols.
Choate Park, Medway, MA. more
Santa Arrives in Salem Nov 28 North Shore
Santa’s also coming to Salem. See what I mean about Quincy, Lowell, and Salem? Springfield’s event is smarter though because it’s non-secular. Anyway, they will have carolers (possibly participatory?). Santa will descend ‘off’ the Hawthorne Hotel. What, from the roof? In a reversal of the traditional Santa gift-giving role, then Santa will lead everyone to a place they can spend money.
Salem, MA. more
Gloucester’s Santa Parade & Tree Lighting Nov 30 North Shore
Santa is a busy elf, also coming to Gloucester. Parade starts at 3pm at the State Fish Pier, ends at Kent Circle around 4:30pm. Participatory Christmas carols. Fill out a holiday card to troops overseas and get some free popcorn and hot chocolate.
Downtown Gloucester, Gloucester, MA. more
Newburyport Santa Parade & Tree Lighting Nov 30 North Shore
And to nearby Newburyport. 4:30pm starting at the Boardwalk and ending at Market Square.
Newburyport, MA. more
Santa’s Arrival at Roger Williams Park Zoo Nov 29 Rhode Island
Get this!! Santa is arriving BY HELICOPTER at this one, clearly the event to see. It’s at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, which I’ve seen and is excellent, not at all how you’d imagine in the smallest state in the country. Because it’s at a zoo, not a shopping district, it’s bound to be more or less non-commercial.
1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI.401-785-3510. more
Winthrop Holiday Lighting Festival Nov 28 Boston Metro
Winthrop is hosting some horse-drawn sleigh rides and Santa will arrive on a fire engine. Santa knows how to make an entrance! (Helicopter still wins though.) With the airport right there, maybe he should arrive by plane. Or VTOL. 3-6pm. Batman will attend as will a giant penguin. Maybe they’ll fight.
Winthrop, MA. more
Methuen Tree Lighting Nov 30 Northern Mass
It’s music, the mayor, hot chocolate, and of course Santa, too. 5:30pm.
Methuen, MA. more
Petting Zoo in front of Seasons Four Furniture Store Nov 21 – Dec 28 Metro West
I can’t tell you how tired I am of seeing merchant events with a stark theme. This one’s different, with a petting zoo, Santa, elmo, face painting, singers, balloon animals, etc.
1265 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA.(781)861-1200. more
Harvard Square Holiday Crafts Fair Nov 29 – Dec 23 Boston Metro
I’m entirely skipping the Harvard Square Merchant event “Sparklefest”, because there’s no real event, it turns out, just a calendar of the usual stuff in Harvard. However, here’s one that looks promising: a church selling goods. I seem to recall that made Jesus angry. Whatever, it’s Christmas! Sat 10-7, Sun 12-6, M-F 12-7:30. Daily Dec 18-23.
Church at corner of Church St & Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA. more

Recurring Events
1627 Harvest Dinner @ Plimoth Plantation Nov 1 – Nov 29 South Shore
Plimoth Plantation invites you to join a re-enactment of the original Thanksgiving dinner, with authentic foods, table manners, and hymn singing. Nov 8, 15, 22, 23, 26, 28, 29 at 5:30pm. Reserve in advance.
137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, MA.(508) 746-1622. more
Shaker Supper @ Hancock Shaker Village Nov 8 – Dec 27 Western Mass
A similar experience is available at Hancock Shaker Village, but it’s a smaller attraction that I would only recommend if you feel you’ve “done” Plimoth Plantation. You get a tour by re-enactors, an authentic dinner, and a cappella Shaker music from the 1830s. Nov 8, 29, and Dec 27.
34 Lebanon Mountain Rd., Hancock, MA. more

The Merchant of Venice Nov 6 – Dec 7 Boston Metro
Yet more Shakespeare. One you probably haven’t seen.
Midway Studios, Fort Point Channel, Boston, MA. more
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nov 7 – Dec 7 Boston Metro
Tom Stoppard is sort of a modern Shakespeare, having written the script for the movie “Shakespeare in Love” and the play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”. Now here’s his Broadway hit about Eastern Europe, rock music, and history.
BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA. more
Between Jobs Nov 7 – Dec 12 Boston Metro
My favorite improv comedy theatre is hosting a series of nights commenting on unemployment, following in a long tradition of satire going back to Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.
Improv Boston, Cambridge, MA. more
Einstein’s Dreams… The Stage Play Nov 18 – Nov 28 Boston Metro
A play adaptation of Alan Lightman’s best-selling novel. I very much enjoyed the novel, which is fantastic, but I have NO IDEA how they’re going to convert such surreal happenings into a play. May be worth checking it out. But definitely read the book.
Central Square Theater, 450 Mass Ave., Cambridge, MA.617-57 MY CST. more
Robin Williams Nov 24 – Nov 25 Boston Metro
Before appearing in a series of sappy family movie comedies, Robin Williams was quite edgy and good. Find out for yourself at this night of stand-up.
Orpheum Theatre, One Hamilton Place, Boston, MA. more
The Nutcracker Nov 28 – Dec 28 Boston Metro
And… It’s The Nutcracker. If you’re ever going to check out ballet (I haven’t), this would probably be it.
Opera House, Boston, MA. more

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