WINDHAM — With COVID-19 precautions upending plans for many Advent and Christmas festivities this year, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish will take a new, yet old-fashioned approach to celebrating the holiday season. During the first weekend of December, the parish will host an outdoor Christmas bazaar in the spirit of traditional Christmas markets found in Austria, Germany, France and other European countries.

The bazaar will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. It is anticipated that Santa and Mrs. Claus may stop by on Saturday evening. Current plans also call for live music on Saturday.

The Rev. Louis Phillips, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, proposed the idea, having had the opportunity to experience the markets while taking a Danube River cruise a few years ago.

“The Europeans begin celebrating Christmas beginning the first of December with wonderful evening outdoor ‘markets’ featuring food, beverages and crafts, amid colorful Christmas lights and sounds of the season, undeterred by the cold and snow,” he said. “We’re going to try to replicate this tradition with a scaled-down and more social-distanced, spread-out version of our own.”

“He comes up with these wonderful ideas,” said Carol Kinney, a volunteer. “I don’t think anybody has tried it, and that’s what we’re doing. We’re just trying it to see if it works.”

The bazaar, which has been planned since August, will be spread throughout the grounds of the church, 919 Roosevelt Trail. When people arrive, they will be given a map showing them the sections and where to find them. Offerings will include a Christmas Shoppe, a children’s area, a pie booth, baked goods, designer gift baskets representing different European countries, wreaths, Christmas trees sold by the Knights of Columbus, raffles and Italian and Bavarian food, packaged to go.

“A Bavarian kitchen went along with the European market theme. We will have sauerkraut and hot German potato salad. We’ll have bratwurst and knockwurst and pretzels with different mustards. For desserts in that area, we’ll have apple cake, while over in the Italian section, we’ll have Italian cookies,” said Kinney.

Also expect to find pasta, pizza and homemade minestrone soup in the Italian kitchen, while in another area, visitors will be able to have coffee, tea, hot cider and hot cocoa. There will be s’mores kits for sale, which children can take home or roast over a fire pit.

“We’re in the process of getting fire pits that will be manned at different locations around the campus, so people won’t be all running to the same fire pit to stay warm,” said Kinney.

In addition to social distancing, face masks will be required. If visitors don’t bring one, they will be given a free, disposable one to use. There will also be cloth ones for sale.

The European bazaar replaces the parish’s Christmas fair, and while Phillips says he hopes it will bring in some revenue, he said that isn’t the primary purpose.

“We see the value in building community at a time when we need to be innovative and creative in bringing people together in celebration and joy,” he said. “A number of parishioners have taken on this ‘project’ with great enthusiasm.”

For more information, contact Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish at 207-892-8288.

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