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Tradition + Funk: A New Bedford Christmas

Fire engine rides with Santa from Custom House Square Park; the annual Christmas concert at St. Anthony of Padua Church on Acushnet Avenue; Deck The Windows downtown.

They’re all nice – but what’s even nicer about a New Bedford Christmas these days is the amount of naughty there is around the yuletide.

In fact, it’s the unique blend of tradition and funk which not only makes the season so much fun – but defines New Bedford Now.

The city is accustomed to the annual light display at Clasky Common Park. The switch gets flipped this Sunday, December 9 at 5:00 p.m.

But now, an influx of creative people and even more creative thinking is adding a dash of flavor to this old chestnut.

Last year, and again this year, Devin Byrnes, the owner of Destination Soups, is bringing new fun to the old holiday light display by hosting Cocoa At The Common again this year. He and crew will be at the lighting with 17 free gallons of hot chocolate on Sunday.

Devin probably runs one of the most creative shops around over at DSoups; it’s staffed by an amazing array of talented people. Byrnes himself moonlights as a heavy metal guitarist.

For all the funky charm the entire crew exudes, they’re also all community-minded folks who act as the whipped cream on the hot chocolate of New Bedford.

It’s when old values meet new thinking that you get a heady mix of tradition and funk.

You see it elsewhere, too. Like at the New Bedford Art Museum. Which is not only celebrating the holidays with its usual museum-type offerings, but also with….a Drag night!

Holidays are a DRAG happens this Thursday during AHA! New Bedford. For the free event from 6-9:00 p.m., NBAM/AW! has teamed up with UMASS Dartmouth’s Artist in Residence Lauren Moran for a night of karaoke. And, you’re invited to come dressed in drag, or, “in anything that makes you feel like a rock star!”

Consider your highest heels; there will be prizes for best dressed and most fabulous!

Here at Groundwork, member Nick Briguglio represents with a special holiday movie night in the coworking space on Wednesday, Dec. 19 beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Nick has chosen the French thriller, “3615 Code Père Noel” to screen. It’s the quirky 1989 film that later became sanitized in Hollywood for Macauley Culkin and mass audiences everywhere as “Home Alone.” Long before Culkin’s “Party Monster” days.

So yeah – you can play it safe and sing-a-long to “White Christmas” at the Zeiterion Theatre on December 16 – and why not? – but what’s sweet about the time we’re living through in the city now is that you can also do it in a feather boa and with a French twist!

Let’s call it a reimagining of Christmas. Or, if you like, victory in the ‘War on Christmas’ FOX News is always carrying on about.

In New Bedford, the rebels are winning that war – as befits a creative city.

What the Friends at FOX don’t get – and what New Bedford does – is that Christmas is all of the above and more.

The house decorations and drag queens. The hot chocolate and provocative cinema.

The traditional and the funky – as defined by each and every one of us.

And God bless us every one.

Except for that whiny little shit, Tiny Tim.

Steven Froias