Friday, November 18, 2011

So. Berwick Festival Offers A Bounty of New Events


Ice sculptures, a wandering minstrel, miniature horse-and-carriage rides, and a hand bell choir are among the new attractions at the annual Home for the Holidays downtown celebration from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec 2.

This year nearly 30 merchants will host activities for the whole family, stretching around the corner for the first time to include festivities on Lower Main Street.

“We decided the event had reached critical mass along the main drag, and it was time to broaden our scope,” said Jayne Morrell, one of the key volunteer organizers.

In addition to the traditional appearance of Santa Claus, Rock my Soul carolers, Phil the Karaoke master and cookie decorating, there will be concerts by the High School Select Choir and Quint-Essential Winds; free mini checkups at Great Works Chiropractic and Wellness; and local Boy Scouts selling wreaths. The newest restaurant on the square, Isidore on the Rocks, will offer a custom local beverage, the SoBotini.

Fogarty’s Restaurant and the Academy Street Inn are sponsoring a minstrel, Dave Peloquin, an internationally known folk musician who will serenade strollers on Lower Main in his trademark top hat. Founder of the group Christmas in New England and lead singer for New England Christmastide Musicians, Peloquin has appeared on “Good Morning America.”

SoBo Central, the non-profit group that provides an umbrella for Home for the Holidays and six other local programs, will run a scavenger hunt beginning at Bob’s Trophies. The hunt will challenge families to find hidden objects at retail outlets around town, and those who succeed will win a prize at the new SoBotique second-hand shop on Lower Main.

The Women’s Holiday Art Sale, the original cornerstone of the annual celebration, this year will have three locations: Film Barn Studio, Lassel Architects and the Jewett House. Thirteen juried artists will be offering fine jewelry, handcrafted cards, felted animals, fused glass, metalwork, art quilts, children’s books and more.

The Art Sale also will be open Saturday, Dec. 3, as will a new artisan show at Curves, craft sales at the First Parish Federated Church and First Baptist Church, and the holiday bazaar at Marshwood High School. The weekend will conclude with a Community Chorus at South Berwick concert, “Laud to the Nativity,” at 3 p.m. Sunday at Marshwood High School.

In the last seven years, Home for the Holidays has become a centerpiece of community life in the holiday season as downtown business owners keep their doors open into the evening on Friday and hundreds of residents fill the streets with cheer.

In addition to Santa Claus welcoming children for a photo op at P. Gagnon & Son, Mrs. Claus will read stories at the Public Library, People’s United Bank will help children write letters to Santa, and York Hospital is inviting children for face painting and snacks.

For a complete listing of activities, the Home for the Holidays brochure is online at

Photo Caption: This horse-drawn carriage, owned by Central School teacher Leigh Robinson, is one of many new attractions at this year’s Home for the Holidays downtown celebration Dec. 2 in South Berwick. Here, children drive the carriage at Eliot Farm Camp. (Courtesy photo)

Warriors Prepare for Battle

The undefeated Wells football team heads to Portland on Saturday with hopes of a championship title.

By Larry Favinger

Staff Columnist


Two undefeated football teams will battle Saturday in Portland for the 2011 Class B state championship.

Unbeaten Wells and Leavitt will square off at 6 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium for the state crown.

“We’re excited to be playing in the game,” Wells Coach Tom Roche said in a telephone interview early this week.

The Warriors (11-0), the Western Maine Class B champion, are seeking their first state football title since 1997 when they beat Belfast 32-30 for the crown.

Leavitt (11-0), the Eastern Maine champion, last won the state title in 2009 when it beat Cape Elizabeth 35-21.

Roche’s team defeated neighboring rival York 32-7, Westbrook 22-6, and defending champion Mountain Valley 10-0 to reach the state championship game.

In the East, Coach Mike Hathaway’s Hornets were beating Morse High of Bath, 61-12; Hamden Academy, 47-22; and Mt. Blue 22-21 in double overtime.

Playing in the state championship game “was the goal” from the start of pre-season, Roche said in a telephone interview. The Warriors were in the regional championship game in 2010.

He said it was the sixth game of the season where Wells began to understand it was a good football team. In that game Wells defeated Mountain Valley 28-12. Mountain Valley has been in the regional title game in 13 of the last 19 years.

The Warriors feature 17 seniors on this year’s team, backed up by a good crop of underclassmen. Roche said it’s “hard for me to single out key players. We have a lot of good players.”

Looking forward to the game, Roche had praise for Leavitt.

“I think they do a great job up there,” he said. “They’re a tough football team.”

“I think we match up well,” he continued. “We’ll see what happens. I think we can move the ball. If we can just shut them down we’ll be fine.”

Leavitt has shown a powerful offense, scoring more than 50 points five times during the season and more than 60 twice.

On the other side of the ball, Wells shut out four opponents, including the defending state champion Mountain Valley.

This is Roche’s 13th year as head coach of the Warriors, his 19th on the football staff.

Opening Scenes: ‘J. Edgar’

By Chip Schrader

Staff Movie Critic

“J. Edgar” begins with an exterior shot of the FBI headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. A man’s voice laments the “disease” of communism that plagues this country. After the shot of the building pans up showing its looming presence, the scene changes to a shot of Dillinger’s death mask and a confiscated machine gun. The voice continues to rant about radicals and their danger to society in an almost Nixon-esque manner. We finally see J. Edgar Hoover pacing in his office while narrating his life story just beyond the machine gun and death mask on display.

At first, it is difficult to match Leonardo DiCaprio’s nearly child-like voice with the elderly Hoover he is made up to portray. For the first scene or two, he isn’t believable. Once the film settles into Hoover’s recollections, and DiCaprio plays the younger Hoover, the seeds of believability are planted and begin to flourish. Scenes after this, DiCaprio fits the elderly Hoover as well as he does the young one.

Eventually, we are introduced to a young Helen Gandy, played by Naomi Watts, whom Hoover unsuccessfully courts as a mate, but successfully finds her to be a lifelong secretary and confidant. Watts transforms herself in this role to the point she is unrecognizable, but the most interesting, and possibly most important introduction in Hoover’s life was when he met Clyde Tolson. Skillfully portrayed by Armie Hammer, the depth of Tolson’s connection to Hoover was subtly portrayed, and as they grow together, there is a tenderness between these men that has never been seen before in cinema.

“J. Edgar” is among many of director Clint Eastwood’s fine films: “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” “Mystic River,” “Unforgiven” and “Bird” to name a few. The cinematography is haunting and hypnotic, two qualities that have been Clint Eastwood’s signature.

Drawing from a bright gray color scheme and heavy use of shadows, “J. Edgar” might have an evenly paced story line, but the intensity of the imagery is where some of the greatest drama is created. Hoover’s career spans Al Capone’s St. Valentine’s Massacre, the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby, and takes America through the turbulent Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations.

With “J. Edgar” being one of the earlier Oscar contenders, it is hard to speculate how it will be recognized. The acting is excellent, particularly with the performance of Armie Hammer. The screenplay and cinematography deserve a nod, as does the direction. Watts and DiCaprio turn out excellent performances, but Watts’ performance represents a fuller transformation. The film’s slow pace and lack of edginess may cause it to be overlooked.

Bottom line, “J. Edgar” is a rock solid film by a director whose career is as distinguished as a director as Eastwood is an actor. Like with many biopics, the action is slow but the intrigue and unraveling of world history outside of the walls is gripping. While the quietness of the film might come off boring to casual filmgoers, those who love classic film noir and American history need to see this movie. It is finely crafted and deserves savoring. 4 out of 5.

Photo Caption: (Courtesy movie poster image)