OPR celebrates decades-long holiday tradition

Children and their families are invited to ride on a festive fire truck at the annual OPR Gingerbread Festival. Photos by Laura Drinan

By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter

For over 50 years, Walpole’s Old Post Road School has invited the community to Gingerbread Festival. Unlike the name suggests, it’s not a celebration of spicy cookies. Instead, it’s an annual kick-start of the holiday season with activities for both children and parents to enjoy.

Decorated with wintry greens, symmetrical snowflakes, and paper stockings, the hallways of OPR were transformed from an elementary school to a holiday wonderland.

The display case in the lobby of Old Post Road School gives children some hints of what festive activities await them in the classrooms.

The display case in the lobby of Old Post Road School gives children some hints of what festive activities await them in the classrooms.

Inside several of the classrooms, though, was where the real holiday cheer was transpiring.

With activities like cookie decorating, card making, nail and face painting, arts and crafts, a cake walk game, and ornament making, the Gingerbread Festival ensured that the morning would be a treat for all. As if there weren’t enough activities for children to occupy their time with, the PAC also offered fire truck rides, a bouncy house, and a video game trailer for kids to enjoy.

Isabella, a first grader at OPR, celebrates her first Gingerbread Festival making ornaments in the art room and participating in the annual event’s other activities.

Isabella, a first grader at OPR, celebrates her first Gingerbread Festival making ornaments in the art room and participating in the annual event’s other activities.

Second grader, Chloe O’Corcora gets her nails painted a sparkly purple at OPR’s annual Gingerbread Festival.

Second grader, Chloe O’Corcora gets her nails painted a sparkly purple at OPR’s annual Gingerbread Festival.

In the art room, children created wreath and candy cane ornaments out of beads, while others decorated paper gingerbreads and trees with stickers.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said one of the arts and crafts volunteers. “Some of the parents come in and say, ‘Oh, I made these when I was growing up!’ And the kids really love it. Some of them will just stay here and go to every single table to do a craft.”

Others treated themselves to some sweets from the candy room and allowed themselves to be pampered with temporary tattoos and nail and face painting.

Most children, however, decided to experience all of the activities Gingerbread Festival had to offer.

This year marked the first Gingerbread Festival for Principal David Barner, who joined the OPR family this fall. He was shocked to hear that the festival has been an OPR tradition for half a century, and he was excited to see more than half of the student body in attendance.

As this year’s Gingerbread Festival attracted hundreds from the community to Old Post Road School, it’s safe to assume the longstanding tradition will continue to inspire holiday cheer in years to come.

Gingerbread Festival welcomes children to create holiday cards for veterans in between the dozens of other activities for OPR’s students.

Gingerbread Festival welcomes children to create holiday cards for veterans in between the dozens of other activities for OPR’s students.

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