By SYDNEY TOPF
For Montclair Local

Montclair residents know how to ring in the holidays. And they did just that through Montclair Make Music Winter on Wednesday, Dec. 21. 

The Montclair Make Music Day committee played host to the Make Music Winter event, bringing together people of all ages and musical levels to celebrate the holidays and the winter solstice. 

Greg Pason, an organizer on the committee, said Make Music Winter is a way of bringing the community together before the holiday season with free music. 

The daylong event at multiple locations “gives people a little boost before the holidays,” Pason said. “Sometimes the holidays can be a depressing time for some folks, but this is kind of like a cool event before the holidays where you get to see everybody and you get to hang out.”

The celebration included carols with Montclair Early Music at Watchung Booksellers, folkie protest songs organized with Outpost in the Burbs and a music and mutant toy parade around downtown Montclair. 

Residents sang, danced and made music throughout the day. Participating local businesses were packed as sounds of live music and customer chatter poured into the streets.

A woodwinds ensemble plays at Watchung Booksellers for Montclair Make Music Winter. (SYDNEY TOPF/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
A woodwinds ensemble plays at Watchung Booksellers for Montclair Make Music
Winter. (SYDNEY TOPF/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
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Make Music Winter is about “celebrating the community,” Pason said. 

“It really is celebrating our neighbors. And just proving we can do it, we can make our own music, we can do that ourselves, and everybody gets involved.”

The World Turned Upside Down event, organized with Outpost in the Burbs at the First Congregational Church, gave event-goers an opportunity to get involved with the music. 

Sheets with lyrics and toy musical noisemakers were distributed so the audience could sing along with the folk band. 

Montclair resident Toni Ann Acquara heard about the event from a friend and said it had “really happy energy.” 

“It's definitely a tactile experience sitting here and feeling the music happening at the same time as listening to it and seeing everybody's expressions and energy,” Acquara said. “That's so much better than just listening to it, like on the radio.” 

Following the dancing and singing at the church, participants walked and skipped down Bloomfield Avenue to Wellmont Plaza to meet up with a group of about 15 people to begin the music and mutant toy parade.  

Children wrapped fairy lights around themselves and carried glow sticks, while their parents carried speakers and light-up posters. 

The parade began in front of the Christmas tree as music began playing from participants’ and organizers’ speakers and phones.

Organizers led the parade through downtown Montclair, walking along busy streets and through alleyways, garages and even the Montclair Brewery. 

It all came to an end in Crane Park, as the final seconds of song played out, creating a moment of silence among the group of adults and children.

For Danielle Coon, the combination of the music and environment created what she called a “magical” experience. 

“The camaraderie of the music, the lights and even the cold came together to create a magical atmosphere,” Coon said, adding that the parade “gave me a moment of respite and quiet before the holiday season.”

Assya Plauskina brought her two children, ages 3 and 6, to the parade because they love music, she said. 

“I think that it is a different kind of music experience,” Plauskina said of the parade. “It’s a different way of listening to music, so I want to expose them to that.” 

She said she would bring her children to future Montclair Make Music Winter events to see what they take away from them every year. 

“I think that it's different every time, depending on who's there, where we go or even walking to different architectural spaces,” Plauskina said. “So we’ll come back to feel that difference.” 

Montclair Make Music Winter featured other musical events throughout the day, including bell ringing outside Gift Bar, live music at Java Love and an open mic night at Pineapple Express. 

The Montclair Make Music Day organization is part of the Make Music Alliance, a nonprofit supporting Make Music Day events around the world. Montclair organizes a Make Music Day every year on June 21​, an event that occurs in more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries. 

Residents like Plauskina appreciated the opportunity to get into the holiday spirit. 

“The holidays in Montclair are very different from how I had holidays,” she said. “There are a lot of opportunities to do different things, but also sometimes it's easy to take it for granted because there's so much stuff everywhere.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the last name of Greg Pason.