The large green wreaths and gold bows that adorned the doors and windows were surprisingly only a small part of the classic holiday decorations featured inside the The Bridge at Cherry Hill.
There was even an ice sculpture outside and impressive Christmas trees in the main lobby, sitting parlor, bistro and already well-appointed dining room. There were also special snow scenes on cabinet tops as well as fully decorated doors that were done by residents at the Johnston based retirement center-assisted living facility.
It was The Bridge at Cherry Hill’s annual Open House, replete with Christmas cookies, coffee and tea, that was tremendously enhanced by a youthful talented musician and special visit from Santa “Paul Evans” Claus.
Add to all that, as well as special greetings from Executive Director Maryann Grace and Marketing and Sales Director Jennifer Burns, the sight of Saturday’s first seasonal snow that created a festive mood unlike previous holiday happenings at The Bridge at Cherry Hill.
There were actually two sides to Saturday’s Open House, the first being residents enjoying the specials sounds of Medeski Dow’s saxophone music and the other being Santa Evans making his way through The Bridge making each and every resident he talked with feel extra special.
Saturday’s Open House also featured a contrast in ages, as Dow is only 15 years old yet is talented and seasoned enough to have a place in the brass section of the famed Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra.
“That young man is only fifteen?” asked several women who sat inside The Bridge’s parlor listing to Dow play a number of Christmas classics on his alto saxophone. “I’d say he’s got a bright future in music!”
Burns, who arranged for Dow to entertain the residents Saturday, explained that “Medeski is a student at the highly acclaimed Jacqueline M. Walsh School of Visual and Performing Arts in Pawtucket. He’s only been playing for three years and takes pride in playing with the (RI) Philharmonic Orchestra.”
Whether it was playing “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer” or “Silent Night” on his saxophone, Dow put residents and The Bridge’s staff in a holiday mood Saturday.
The same held true of Santa Evans, a former baseball standout at Pilgrim High who enjoyed a successful teaching career in Warwick and now ranks among one of the finest and busiest life-like jolly old Saint Nick’s in all of New England.
Whether it was ringing his sleigh bells or show off his hand carved Santa staff, Santa Evans carried a book he opened upon asking each resident if, in fact, their name was on his list.
Perhaps one of Santa Evans’ most precious moments came when he greeted Jameson Grace, Maryann Grace’s “pride and joy” and grandson who he helped sit in a big chair in front of a well-decorated Christmas tree to family members could take in his picture.
Oh, there were a few tears, as often happens when tiny toddlers are in the company of a strange person, let alone Santa, yet no one smiled more than Maryann Grace as she watched the goings on with her grandson Jameson and his parents, Robert and Kerri Grace, prior to taking a keepsake Christmas photo with Santa.