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Keeping Suffolk bright

In the nearly two years that I’ve been writing for the Suffolk News-Herald, one of the things that I’ve come to appreciate is how people around the city put time and energy into making things more inviting for visitors and locals alike. That was the case when children got paint on their hands for the holidays this week.

It was a cold and breezy Tuesday morning but also bright, sunny and the perfect backdrop for Suffolk Public School students to decorate up and down Main Street and elsewhere downtown. This was the 18th year that Lesa McNamara worked with the city and its businesses to offer this festive field trip.

Art teachers picked some of their talented pupils and took them to Brighter Day Café, the Suffolk Peanut Center and other spots, including my own office on South Saratoga Street. I saw windows covered in musical snow men and elves straight out of Santa’s workshop.

McNamara explained that their only stipulation was for them to come up with designs based on this year’s “Jingle Bell Rock” theme.

“They’re asked to paint using that theme, but they can do anything as long as it relates to Jingle Bell Rock,” McNamara said.

These downtown paint sessions Tuesday and Thursday this week are boons for the businesses that get some eye-catching window dressings and for the students that get to have brightly-colored reminders that they’re talented artists. But it’s also a reminder of the effort these people put into these projects, even when the variables don’t go their way.

The painting was scheduled in advance of Suffolk’s annual downtown Holiday Parade, which is Saturday, and those that followed the buildup to last year’s parade may remember that “Jingle Bell Rock” was the same theme a year ago.

Unfortunately, last year’s evening parade was canceled for bad weather. This Saturday is everyone’s second chance to “Jingle Bell Rock” downtown, and fingers are crossed that the weather holds out. But the outlook is looking wet and grim as of Wednesday, as the National Weather Service office in Wakefield is forecasting 1 to 2 inches of rain throughout the weekend.

Kudos to McNamara, Kilby Shores Elementary School art teacher Angie Salerno and all the others that are doing their best to get Suffolk holiday ready. It’s not easy to pull all of this together, but the results shine bright when the holidays kick in.

Good luck to everyone with their holiday plans. I’ll be rooting for no precipitation this Saturday — rain, snow or otherwise.