Christmas party at the Council on Aging brings holiday cheer

Dec 22, 2020

Driving near Dartmouth St. may have been more difficult than usual on Dec. 22, as hundreds of the town’s eldest residents turned out for the Council on Aging’s drive-thru holiday party.

Around 200 people lined up in their cars — some with wreaths, reindeer antlers, or other seasonal decorations — to cruise through the senior center parking lot, which was transformed into a winter wonderland for the occasion.

Holiday inflatables, tinsel trees, and other decorations lined the drive as staff and volunteers handed out a variety of goodies from a half dozen tables, with classic Christmas tunes crooned by singer and DJ Jordan Paiva helping bring out the cheer.

Guests were given sweet treats like peppermint bark and chocolate-covered pretzels, Covid-themed Christmas ornaments, homemade holiday masks, and a boxed lunch from New Bedford-based D & D caterers — with even a poinsettia plant to take home.

One of Santa’s elves, Cleone Silva, gave out cookies, while her son, Dartmouth Police Officer Scott Affonce, handed out chocolates dressed as Santa Claus.

For Affonce it was at least his second stint as Santa this year — he also made an appearance at the “Fill the Bus” toy drive over the weekend — although this time he was accompanied by Southcoast Behavioral Health Pharmacy Director Karen Harb dressed as Mrs. Claus.

“Just the smiles have made my day,” said helper Ann Marie Monteiro, who was wearing a sparkly, battery-operated Christmas sweater.

All in all, it was a community effort, noted COA Activities Coordinator Nancy Miller. 

Most of the goodies, the music and food were funded by the Dartmouth Friends of the Elderly, while DCTV chipped in and helped decorate. 

Inflatables and cookies were donated by community members and local businesses, while volunteer Rose Rega sewed all of the masks.

COA Director Amy DiPietro made all of the chocolates herself, including peppermint bark and “Christmas crack,” made of chocolate, melted butter, and brown sugar with saltines. 

“It seems like every luncheon we do, we add a few more people on, which has been great,” DiPietro said. “And the weather has been absolutely phenomenal!”

Dartmouth resident Vera Santos said she comes to the COA events all the time with her veteran husband Mike. “We’re always in for the senior center,” she said. “This is wonderful!”

“It just brings out the child in you, and since we’ve been isolated, it gives you an outlet,” noted resident Beverly Wheeler.

“We’re loving it,” agreed Eileen Francis, who was doing a little dance in the car. “I think they did such a wonderful job. And they made us feel special!”