ADAMS -- The holiday spirit was thriving Sunday afternoon as hundreds came to the Town Common to listen to carols, visit with Santa and hop on a horse-drawn carriage ride during the annual Christmas tree lighting.
Nearby, the Town Hall Gallery added to the festivities with an opening for its Holiday Village display, a collection of more than 200 holiday-themed miniature buildings and figurines donated by The Grille owner Dan Paciorek.
The overlapping events drew a steady flow of visitors to the neighboring venues.
"It's a great event," said Tawnia Wilson, a Williamstown transplant to the Washington, D.C., area. Wilson attended the tree lighting with her niece, Genevieve Tassone, of Adams.
"We brought her two years ago, and we came today to see Santa and the Christmas tree lighting," Wilson added.
Genevieve's favorite part of the afternoon?
"Horses," she said of the carriage rides after some thought. "It was cool."
In addition to carriage rides through downtown, visitors enjoyed carols performed by the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District Chorus and the Greylock Girl Scout Service Unit.
The requisite visit from Santa Clause saw the big man listen from the Common's gazebo to the wish lists of a long line of children. Old Saint Nick later led the children in a countdown ending with a shout of "Merry Christmas" and the lighting of the tree. This year's trees were donated by Eugene and Elizabeth Ziemba and Joseph and Theresa Alibozek.
The event also featured free coffee and cookies from the local Elks Lodge and free hot chocolate and doughnuts from the Adams Lions Club.
"We do this every year," said Jim Dynes of the Lions Club. "It's our way of giving back to the community. The kids show up and take a carriage ride, and hopefully they'll go over and see Dan Paciorek's village."
Just up the street in the Town Hall Gallery, a sizable crowd was doing just that, stopping to peruse a holiday collection 25 years in the making.
"When I was a kid, I always wanted a train set, but never got one. I grew older, got [The Grille], and looked at the sidebar one day and said ‘maybe I'll start a Christmas village,' " Dan Paciorek said of the collection's origins.
The display of mostly Lemax Hearthside figurines and buildings lived above The Grille's sidebar for years before Paciorek donated it last year, making for an annual installation in the Town Hall.
"Jerry Jette, [Selectmen's Chair Arthur] ‘Skip' Har rington and I put in 16 hours each setting up the shelves and the major houses of the display," said Paciorek. "But [Town Clerk] Haley Meczywor and ‘the Town Hall elves' put up all the figurines."
For her part, Meczywor highlighted the "community effort" from Town Hall employees, Paciorek, Jette, Harrington and Selectman Michael Ouellette in bringing the village to life.
"I think it's wonderful," Meczywor said of the display. "For people to come out and see it, this is a nice addition to the tree lighting."
The show is sponsored by the town of Adams and the Adams Events Planning Committee, and it is on view through end of year. The Adams Town Hall Gallery is free and open to the public weekdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Follow Michael J. Foster on Twitter: @NAT_DigitalMike.