Re-posted from my blog: Malted Musings.
Eli Cannon's Tap Room yearly Christmas tree lighting ended up being bigger, better, and brighter than ever this year. New bar manager JD Crandall added more lights and more trees to the display and lit up the far North end of Middletown with a blast of holiday cheer. Going from one tree to four, and adding an overture of rockin' Christmas music made this year's lighting a true Holiday spectacle.
So many decorations were added to the display this year that the Eli Cannons had to add-on and reinforce the current platform to accommodate the hefty weight of newly-added holiday cheer. The other difference to this yearly tradition centered around the fact that NoRA Cupcakes was actually fully-open for business and supplied all the cookies and cocoa to the gathered mob in front of the bar.
Beside these changes the tree-lighting ran as usual. Santa arrived in merry splendor atop a wagon drawn by two great horses. He circled around the intersection, escorted by the Middletown police force, and disembarked in front of the bar with enthusiastic fanfare.
After Santa shook the hands of several ecstatic children (and a few equally excited adults), he positioned himself in front of the bar with Phil Ouellette (Eli Cannon's owner), Middletown mayor Dan Drew, and other prominent members of the Middletown community. Oullette took the microphone (well actually a bullhorn) and gave a short speech. He thanked all the volunteers and employees of Eli Cannons, the Middletown government and Chamber of Commerce (citing the Chamber as the driving force behind helping this event get so much bigger and better over the years), and the police department. Ouellette continued to say that this event is special because it gives back to the children of the bar's clientele, and also gives a safe, fun, and free event to the families and children of Middletown's North End. Mayor Dan Drew had a few words to say as well- he thanked the owners of Eli Cannon's and expressed his appreciation for all Eli Cannon's strives to do for the Middletown community.
After the speeches, the crowd counted down, Santa flipped the master light switch, and with a roaring round of applause the front of Eli Cannon's Tap Room exploded to life with cheery lighting, merry Christmas trees, and the happy sounds of rock n' roll Holiday music coming through the loudspeakers. The crowd oo'd and ahh'd, and then was bathed with potato flakes snowing down from the roof (it sounds gross, but it was actually quite festive in the moment)! After all was said and done Santa crossed the street (once again flanked by Middletown's finest) to hold court in NoRA Cupcakes, and bestow gifts and good cheer to the kids who had been waiting for him eagerly all year.
I touched base with JD Crandall (the new bar manager) before the tree lighting, and his sentiments were in line with what Oullette later went on to say. Crandall started by saying that the philosophy that permeates all Eli Cannon's does is, "It's not about us, it's about all of us."
That is to say the aspect of community involvement is very central to the way that Eli's operates. For this event Eli Cannon's was holding a raffle (the grand prize of which was a trip to the Red Hook brewery!) where all you had to do is bring an unopened toy in to be entered. Crandall continued by saying that Eli Cannons is firm in what it believes in; from top management to the everyday "solider" working the bar floor, everyone is on the same page. This support, says Crandall, is very rare to see in a busy business environment, but it's this support that makes Eli Cannon's the strong Middletown landmark that it is today.
Crandall finished by saying that Eli Cannon's takes care of its own as well as it tries to take care of everyone else. Case in point- two years ago Crandall was parking cars for the Christmas Tree Lighting event. Now, after a lot of hard work, Crandall is the bar manager making sure that the very same event runs smoothly.
Eli Cannon's is a very unique small business, as it opens its doors for unique, exciting events all the time. It's not just a bar that sits behind tinted windows and a dull facade- its a place that focuses on community involvement and people in town (and beyond) getting together, and having good beer and good times!
To see pics from the event, check out Jere Adametz's awesome pictures from the event here, or go to this post on my blog. For a sneak peek at a few events coming up, check out my other blog post. To stay up-to-date on all things CT beer related, follow me on on Blogger, Twitter, and Facebook and stay current with all the beer happenings you could ask for! I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday, and I look forward making some good winter beer suggestions for your Christmas and Holiday parties real soon!