In this era of global warming, the festival known as Frozendale — celebrated annually in early December — has often failed to live up to its name, with celebrants sporting light jackets. But this year, the weather cooperated; there were even occasional sprinkles of snow early last Saturday, as the event got underway in downtown Rosendale. Later it was simply cold, though not too cold to deter plenty of families in search of some holiday cheer.
“It was pretty busy here earlier,” said a Santa-suited James Noon, who huddled in front of the Rosendale Theatre façade waiting for children to pass by. This year’s free movie matinée was Annie, and Santa had been besieged by kids immediately following the screening. But by midafternoon, most of the little ones had moved onto other activities. Undeterred, he offered photo ops to passersby of all ages. “What do you want for Christmas, little girl?” Noon asked one woman who had clearly not been a little girl for many a decade. The senior was a good sport about it, gamely posing with Santa while her friend took out her camera phone.
Shoppers gladly ducked into stores all along Main Street to check out the day’s special discounts, hot drinks and sweet treats. The Rosendale Library was holding a book fair, and craftspeople displayed an array of intriguing handmade items, including amusing metal Elf Bots and Annabelle Popa’s cuddly stuffed toys, at the Winter Gift Sale at RosenSpace. In front of the antique store Soiled Doves, a ballerina clad in tutu and warm leggings danced the part of the Sugarplum Fairy. Visitors to the Big Cheese could join in a hands-on workshop to make their own dreidels from clay, while Frozendale organizer Laurie Giardino sat at another table gluing color-coded numbers onto compartments in aluminum foil trays to help the judges sample entries in the Mac & Cheese Contest coming up at the end of the day. Kyle Ruger ended up taking the First Place prize, followed by Kit Goldpaugh and Ron Langlois.
Across the street at Redwing Blackbird Theater, Amy Trompetter had decided to scale back her usual outdoor performance of The Animals in Winter and substitute an equally participatory indoor show for kids, with giant “Goon” puppets cavorting in front of a backdrop of cheery painted sunflowers while a young volunteer read the opening lines of Richard III — only as far as “made glorious summer by this sun” — off cue cards. “I had a run in New York and came back totally wiped out,” Trompetter reported. It has been a busy year for the puppeteer/activist: In addition to her just-ended Off-Broadway production Fantasque, she put on her “puppet opera” Requiem for Anna Politkovskaya at Bard College last spring, performed at Rikers Island and in the South Bronx, participated in a local show about Sojourner Truth and even went to Brazil to present a “modified Punch and Judy show” about the murdered human rights activist Mariella Franco.
“It’s mostly activism that is the engine of the work here,” Trompetter said, in between performances of her impromptu “twisting of Shakespeare.” The young actors hidden underneath the larger-than-life-sized puppets may have been having too much fun to realize it, but they were part of an effort that epitomizes what the volunteer-fueled Frozendale event is all about. “I believe that this community can make a difference in the way this world is going, so it can be more equitable for everybody,” she added. “That spirit in Rosendale is strong. We want this community to continue its generous path to mutual support.”