Santa Comes Out for Square's 'Sparklefest'

Although Santa’s boat was frozen in its dock, he celebrated an early holiday Saturday with local families at the Square’s annual winter festivities.

Raymond Ost, chef and owner of Sandrine’s Bistro, has volunteered as a Square Santa Clause for the past three years, but this year the frigid temperatures kept him from sailing up the Charles.

Saturday’s events continued as planned—albeit with fewer people in attendance—with cookie-decorating at Sandrine’s and discounts at Square stores.

Sparklefest, an annual series of events sponsored by the Harvard Square Business Association, formally kicked off last week with the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Charles Hotel.

“It’s hard to build cohesiveness unless you’re a small town so we’re doing an event that has good feeling for the community,” said Robin Lapidus, the association’s executive director.

A handful of families followed Ost from the Charles to Sandrine’s to spend the afternoon decorating cookies.

Carol Madeiros, in town from upstate New York to visit her sister, watched as her children, Ashley, 4, and Taylor, 3, messily squeezed icing on their gingerbread cookie and covered it in chocolates and gum drops.

“Eating is my favorite part,” Taylor said as he picked red Skittles out of a bowl and held up a half-gnawed candy cane.

Five-year-old Cuba Birnbaum agreed.

“I like playing with the icing to make pictures, but it’s definitely more fun to eat the chocolate,” he said.

Outside, stores offered discounts and free goodies—chips and salsa at Real Taco and cider at Berks, Club Passim and Cardullo’s.

At Stonestreet’s, Cynthia Atkinson and her husband, Richard, said they were pleased that the shop offered a 15 percent discount on all purchases for the day.

“We hadn’t heard of Sparklefest before, but it’s certainly nice to come here and find discounts in the stores,” she said.

Lapidus said the weekend aimed to create holiday spirit in the Square—both for shoppers and employees.

“It’s hard to gauge whether more people turn out to shop when we have an event like this,” Lapidus said, “but what we want to do is make the experience nice for people during this busy time.”