Late last week, as below-freezing temperatures settled in on New Paltz, Water Street Market sat mostly quiet. With temperatures around 18 degrees that night, one family who braved the cold huddled around a fire roaring in a brazier in the landing down the hill from Antiques Barn.
Down the street, the nook on Water Street — where in summer people stop for a chess match or to watch the fountain — looked radically different. A half inch of snow lay on the chessboard, locking rooks, knights and the queen in place. The fountain’s pool transformed too — into a brick of ice with candles reflecting off its slippery, glassy surface.
In fact, candles were all around at Water Street — lining the sidewalk, surrounding the fountain, and farther down the path some more in the shape of a peace sign — as part of the first-ever Community Candle Walk.
“It’s a night of contemplation,” explained Theresa Fall, the owner of Jar’d Wine Pub and Water Street Market spokeswoman. “We’re putting donation jars out.”
People were asked to light candles in memory of something special to them — either a person who has passed away or someone that brought meaning to their lives. Donations went to support Family of New Paltz.
In their display, Water Street Market deployed more than 1,000 candles.
Walter Marquez, the owner of Antiques Barn, noted that the celebration was meant to evoke a somber, contemplative mood.
“It’s just to be thoughtful,” Marquez said. “We’re trying to light it up, if we can.”
For Fall, the imperative to choose Family of New Paltz as the event’s charity of choice was clear. “Family just does so much for our community,” she said.
Family of New Paltz offers a wide variety of services – everything from clothing and food for the needy to substance abuse counseling.
“People came throughout the evening and we raised close to $200 for Family,” said Fall. “Not too bad for a cold winter night.”
In all, despite the cold, Water Street Market merchants wanted to provide something for people to do in December. “It’s just about doing something for the community,” she added.
For more about other events at the market, head to https://waterstreetmarket.com/.