Inaugural Christmas in Little Italy: a call for Volunteers

Oct 17, 2020 1224

BY: Lesley (Segalla) Nalley

Greetings friends of Little Italy Arkansas Heritage Society and Museum!  Please join me in planning towards the celebration of our Lord and Savior’s birth, by reviving the Christmas traditions that built “community” in Little Italy.  For those of us who spent our younger years in Little Italy during Christmas, we recall fondly the magic that came alive then and the joy of spending time with our family, friends, and neighbors.

My fondest childhood memories with Noni and Papa Segalla include visits from Mr. John Dal Santo dressed as Santa.  He would make the rounds delivering toys while neighbors came around caroling, stopping in to enjoy a bourbon-soaked raisin (or several) in coffee or sharing a fresh batch of crostoli.  We decorated trees with popcorn and were mesmerized by the twinkling lights.  We cracked pecans. We cooked, ate, slept, and ate some more. We read the story of Jesus’ birth.  We went to midnight mass.  We reminisced about holidays past and the loved ones who had gone on before us.  In those moments, we released the cares of this world.

If you are like me, the days of old become more and more precious with each passing year, thus the reason for my message today.  The Little Italy Arkansas Heritage Society and Museum Board recently approved forming a Christmas Committee to return these traditions to our beloved community.  As Chair of this year’s committee, I am seeking volunteers for our inaugural “Christmas in Little Italy” steering committee and event.  Will you join us?

At our first steering committee meeting which I would like to hold during the week of October 18th (date and time TBD), we will discuss the following: 1) Draft Purpose Statement: Introduce Little Italy traditions to the next generation through an annual Christmas event that promotes the museum and its Italian heritage, encourages community engagement and unity, and, above all, celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. 2) Proposed 2020 Event: Drive through COVID-safe toy distribution by Santa with toy and coat drive in advance and remaining toy/coat donation from the museum following. 3) Proposed Date: Saturday, December 19th  4) Confirmed Santa: Vince Chiaro (BTW, Vince, Tony would make a beautiful Mrs. Claus) Thank you Kristy Eanes for the Santa Suit). 5) Event Timeline and Planning

In addition to volunteering to be on this year’s steering committee, we are also seeking the following assistance: Pictures of area children with John Dal Santo as Santa or other historical Christmas photos. Written stories of your personal Little Italy Christmas memories. Pictures of your family caroling within the Little Italy area. Pictures of Little Italy area homes decorated at Christmas. Your favorite Little Italy-inspired Christmas recipe. Recruitment and confirmation of businesses/locations that will serve as drop off sites and promoters of the toy and coat drive (to begin November 1st). Names, ages and interests of children you are bringing to participate in this year’s drive-through toy delivery by Santa and donation of child-specific gift or donation towards gift purchases (all children and grandchildren from community families with or without a reservation/donation are welcome, but this will help better ensure age appropriate gifts for known participants). Volunteers to map out and setup vehicle entrance and exit path on museum grounds. Volunteers to establish and execute COVID-19 event protocols. Volunteers to plan and execute comprehensive media and PR coverage before, during and following the event. Volunteers to recruit and/or assist homeowners along Hwy 300 that will commit to putting up outdoor Christmas lights. Volunteers to design, purchase and assemble future-event save the date handouts (i.e. candy canes with a note card attached, etc.). Suggested 2021 events that should be included in “save the date” handout. Volunteers for mobile caroling, especially to shut ins. Nominations for the organization that will be the recipient of remaining toys and coats.

Please send all questions, comments, suggestions, offers to volunteer and pictures to [email protected]

Thank you in advance for making the inaugural “Christmas in Little Italy” a successful event that truly honors the love and devotion shown to us and to this community by those who came before us!


SOURCE: Little Italy Arkansas Heritage Society

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