STOCKBRIDGE — With sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s, Sunday's Main Street at Christmas celebration sponsored by the town's Chamber of Commerce was more like "Main Street in early fall." But the event still draws great crowds.
Barbara Zanetti, executive director of the Stockbridge Chamber of commerce, estimated at about 12:45 p.m. that 3,000 visitors had already been on Main Street, and there was still more than an hour to go before the street was re-opened at 2 p.m.
The annual event celebrates the holiday season by recreating famed illustrator Norman Rockwell's iconic 1967 painting "Home for Christmas (Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas)," featuring the southern side of the town's main drag. This is the side of the street on which sits the Red Lion Inn, the former town hall and other buildings.
The Chamber also parks vintage cars along the streets to duplicate the 1960s era vehicles Rockwell included in his painting. There are far fewer in the actual painting, but traffic in the 1960s was probably not as heavy as now.
The event features food, music, entertainment and a trip (for an extra fee) in a horse-drawn sleigh.
There is also face-painting. The most popular images, according to face painter Kusia Nowik of Enfield, Conn., are a skull or a shark for young boys and a butterfly for little girls.
Visitors can also put their faces in an oversized Saturday Evening Post cover and have their picture taken.
"Yeah, that's pretty cool," said Sean McMicheals, 12, of Long Island. "You can see how it feels to be on a magazine cover."
"It's just a fun family day," said Debra Stacey of Rhode Island. She and her mother, Betty Stacey, also from Rhode Island, were visiting Main Street as part of a bus tour. After they strolled around Main Street, said Betty, the bus would be taking them, fittingly, to the Norman Rockwell Museum.
"It's fun," said Betty, a newcomer to Stockbridge. Her daughter recalls attending a Tanglewood concert about 25 years ago and making a stop on Main Street.
Not everyone was a visitor. Residents Donald Schneyer and his wife, Rosemary, were also spotted walking down Main Street.
"I think one of the big reason people come to visit is the vintage car collection," opined Don. "That's always a big attraction."
The day was mild and sunny throughout. Many people just sat on the benches and enjoyed the sunshine. At 12:30 p.m. the street was jammed with people, more than one observer had seen in a few years.
"The weather has been good today," said Camilo Manrique, innkeeper of The Seasons Inn on Main Street. Manrique was volunteering as an admissions button seller and answering visitors' questions.
"There have been so many questions today," he said. "A lot of people want to know if the cars on the street today are the original cars from the painting."
"No," he said.