Y-D Red Sox and Cape Cod League returning to action

After the pandemic forced Cape Codders to endure a summer without their favorite baseball games last year, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox are ready to play ball in 2021.

Earlier this month, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the state is lifting all remaining COVID-19 restrictions as of May 29. Also, the state of emergency in Massachusetts will end on June 15, Baker said – five days before the start of the 2021 Cape Cod Baseball League season.

COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations are all tracking downward, and Massachusetts is on schedule to meet its goal of 4 million people fully vaccinated by June 1, Baker said. So, with businesses preparing to open at full capacity across Cape Cod, many are eager to get outside and have some old-fashioned fun. It’s also clear that absence has made the baseball heart grow fonder.

There’s a great deal of enthusiasm about the return of Cape Cod League Baseball this year, said Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox President James P. DeMaria. “The pent-up excitement is absolutely palpable. It’s fantastic.”

The league begins its 40-game schedule at 5 p.m. on Father’s Day, June 20. That’s when the Brewster Whitecaps visit Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth to take on the Y-D Red Sox. (Find a complete Cape League schedule online.)

If the crack of the bat and smell of new-mown grass – along with the occasional waft of grilling hot dogs – doesn’t get you primed, the price of admission should do the trick. All Cape Cod Baseball League games are free. Parking is free. Concessions are affordable. And the spectator experience is incomparable, DeMaria said.

“When people come to visit the Cape, and they’re looking for things to do, and they’re looking for things that are family friendly, and they’re looking for things that are within their budget, and they’re looking for things that their kids will enjoy, and they’re looking for things that are outdoors – we’re all of those things.”

People can bring their families, he said. They can enjoy a wonderful evening outdoors and see future major league stars playing a fantastic brand of baseball in an environment that is “a slice of Americana,” DeMaria said. “It’s a great experience, and it’s quintessential Cape Cod.”

FUTURE MAJOR LEAGUE ALL-STARS

Most fans know that watching any Cape League game offers the chance to see future major-leaguers, including all stars and World Series champions. The Y-D Red Sox are no exception, DeMaria said. He noted that many Y-D players have gone from rounding the bases at Red Wilson Field to thrilling the fans at Fenway Park and other big-league venues. You want names?

For starters, there’s Chris Sale. The Red Sox ace played in Yarmouth during the summer of 2009 then helped the Red Sox win the 2018 World Series – even striking out Dodgers’ slugger Manny Machado for the final out. All told, there were 14 former Cape Cod League players in the World Series that year.

Last year’s Major League Championship series featured more Y-D alums.

“We had four players in the World Series last year – three Dodgers and one for the Tampa Bay Rays,” DeMaria said. The Cape Cod League alumni wearing Dodger Blue in 2020 were Justin Turner, Walker Buehler and Chris Taylor. Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino is also a former Y-D Red Sox player.

There’s more: Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber, winner of last year’s American League Cy Young Award, played with the Y-D Red Sox in 2015. When you count the players on all 10 Cape Cod League Baseball teams, there are annually 300 active alumni playing in the major leagues and more than 1,250 players all time, according to CCBL statistics. One in every six Major League Baseball players has spent time in the Cape League.

SUPPORTING THE TEAM

While all Cape Cod Baseball League games are free, donations are appreciated. Supporting the concession stands and souvenir shops is helpful, too. DeMaria said the hope is that people come to the games and spend a few hours, grab something to eat, buy a T-shirt or hat, and enjoy themselves.

With most games starting at 5 or 6 p.m., dinner at the ballpark is a convenient and inexpensive option. A hot dog is $3; a cheeseburger is $4; and it’s $7 for a sausage, pepper and onion roll. You can also try Capt. Parker’s award-winning chowder for $6 ($8 if it’s served in a bread bowl). And a Moose Tracks ice cream cone is just $3.

All home games are played at Merrill “Red” Wilson Field behind D-Y Regional High School, 210 Station Ave., South Yarmouth. There’s free parking at the high school, and the field has a capacity of 5,500. Bleachers along the first-base and third-base lines, allow a great view of the game, and there’s plenty of open space for those who want to bring lawn chairs to sit on the grass. But keep your eyes fixed on the action and watch out for foul balls – these are future big-league batters with a lot of power in their swings.

The D-Y High School field and all the fan accommodations are in excellent condition, DeMaria said. He says the team will follow any safety precautions recommended by local public health officials.

While the state is lifting its remaining COVID-19 restrictions on May 29, protective face masks will still be required on public transportation, inside health facilities, in public schools, and in buildings where vulnerable populations live. Also, those who have not been vaccinated are advised to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

LESSONS FROM FUTURE STARS

Beyond the games, there’s coaching. Youngsters who want to sharpen their skills at hitting, fielding and throwing can take a clinic under the direction of Y-D Red Sox manager Scott Pickler, with help from staff and players. Clinics are available for boys and girls 5 years and older, with a focus on individual skills, along with sportsmanship, citizenship and character. The clinics run Monday through Friday mornings and cost $90 a week – which includes a T-shirt.

OPEN YOUR HOME TO A CCBL PLAYER

Yarmouth residents who want to get more involved with the team can host a player for the summer. Like other Cape Cod Baseball League teams, the Y-D Red Sox rely on local families to provide room and board for players who stay with one family for the entire season. Ballplayers are expected to toe the line to family rules and provide their own transportation. “We’re always looking for host families,” DeMaria said, noting that those sign up for the program this year, might become host families during the summer of 2022. Find out more at the Y-D Red Sox website.

The Y-D Red Sox also use volunteers to help with fundraising and community activities, help at home games and provide other team services. If you’re interested in learning more, email DeMaria at jdemaria@ydredsox.com.

Andy Tomolonis is a textbook author, travel writer and freelance multimedia journalist.

Ferry service moving closer to full steam ahead in 2021

After a devastating pandemic that resulted in the lowest ridership in 13 years, the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority is banking on a strong rebound this summer, with a return to normal business by fall.

There’s a pent-up demand for travel, said Steamship Authority Marketing Director Kimberlee McHugh, who added that the fervor was evident on Jan. 12 – the first day of online bookings for the 2021 season. “People were flocking to the website to book summer reservations to the islands,” she said.

For trips between Hyannis and Nantucket, the Authority processed 5,151 transactions during the first day of advance internet sales this year, representing $2.8 million in revenue. That’s 434 more trips than customers had booked during the first day of internet sales in January of 2020 – at a time when most people were still unaware of COVID-19.

“Things are looking up,” she said. “We’re obviously not where we were in 2019, but we are definitely on an upswing. And our thought is that by the fall, we are optimistic that we will be back to normal ridership levels.”

McHugh cautions that the Steamship Authority still has pandemic-related restrictions in place, but some of them are likely to be lifted as the state eases limitations on businesses and social gatherings. Gov. Charlie Baker announced earlier this month that the state’s COVID-19 restrictions will all be lifted as of May 29 but masks are still required when using public transportation.

  • You need to wear a mask on the ferry, she said – both indoors and on deck. The Authority keeps a supply of disposable masks available for ferry customers and shuttle-bus riders who do not have a face covering with them.
  • While masks are mandatory, prepackaged food and beverages will be available on several of the Steamship Authority’s passenger/vehicle ferries.
  • The ferry service is still operating at partial capacity, allowing for safe social distancing.  

Across the U.S., the novel coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the travel industry during 2020, resulting in a loss of $1.1 trillion, according to a report released in March by the U.S. Travel Association. The pain was felt in jobs as well, with travel-supported employment losing 5.6 million jobs in 2020, the travel industry trade group said.

The drop in business for the Steamship Authority was significant. Combined ridership on the Hyannis to Nantucket ferries and the Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard ferries had been tracking between 2.8 million to 3 million in recent years, McHugh said. But in 2020, the Authority only reported 2,067,301 passengers.

McHugh speculated that ridership numbers will begin climbing above pre-pandemic levels during the 2022 season.

The Steamship Authority, established by the state Legislature in 1960, runs multiple trips from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard Island and back, as well as a fast and slow ferry from Hyannis to Nantucket. The schedule, which changes throughout the year and ramps up during the busy summer months, can be found at the Steamship Authority’s website.

The fast ferry, M/V Iyanough, is a great option for day trips, covering the 26-mile ride across Nantucket Sound in one hour, which allows more time for exploring the island, McHugh said. The 154-foot aluminum catamaran normally carries up to 400 people, including passengers and crew, but it’s operating at lower capacity to allow safe social distancing. There’s also room for luggage and up to 30 bicycles. The Iyanough features wi-fi service and flat screen TVs. This year, travelers can take advantage of a special $55 day-trip fare, which allows them to travel on the same day, round-trip, Monday through Thursday.

For a more leisurely trip – roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes for the 26-mile ride – choose the M/V Eagle, which carries up to 768 passengers and crew members, along with 52 vehicles. The Eagle allows lots of space on deck and indoors, and also features wi-fi access.

Whether traveling between Hyannis and Nantucket or Woods Hole and Falmouth, the Steamship Authority has recently implemented eFerry Ticketing, a contactless e-ticket system that makes it easier for walk-on passengers. You can buy a ticket online, load it onto your mobile device and scan the device when boarding. The e-ticket systems vary slightly for traditional and high-speed ferries. Find more information on the Steamship Authority’s website.

The Authority is also purchasing new electric buses to shuttle riders from remote parking lots to the ferry. Two environmentally friendly vehicles should be in operation for the 2022 season, McHugh said.

Find general information about parking, remote lots, trips to both islands, and safety requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the Steamship Authority’s website.

Andy Tomolonis is a textbook author, travel writer and freelance multimedia journalist.

‘Hapless Children’ and dark treasures at Edward Gorey House

Little children don’t enjoy many happily-ever-after moments in Mr. Gorey’s Neighborhood. In fact, they almost always meet a dark and unexpected demise. Take young Ernest, who choked on a peach, or his book-mate Fanny, who was eerily “sucked dry by a leach”.

The unfortunate children are two of 26 characters in one of Edward Gorey’s most popular creations, “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” – an alphabetized picture book of kids who fall down the stairs, get sucked into a mire, or tossed from a sleigh. More to the point, they’re examples of the dark humor you’ll find when touring the Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port this season.

“Hapless Children: Drawings from Mr. Gorey’s Neighborhood” explores the artist’s not-so-gentle treatment of children, said Gorey House curator Gregory Hischak. And yes, the clever subtitle is an intentional play off the benevolent nature of public television’s “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Edward Gorey was a prolific artist, writer, book illustrator and even a celebrated stage designer, who created the sets and scenery for the long-running Broadway production of “Dracula” during the 1970s. And while many know him as the quirky animator of those shadowy figures who tangoed through the intro for the PBS “Mystery!” series, Gorey was also highly sought illustrator of children’s books during the 1950s and ’60s. Amid his rising popularity, he took to creating his own books, which he intended as a children’s literature, Hischak explained. Unfortunately, publishing houses didn’t see the work as suitable for youngsters, so Gorey frequently resorted to self-publishing. Many of his works, like “The Hapless Child” and “The Gashlycrumb Tinies,” became favorites of adults and children – much in the way that Lemony Snicket stories and Tim Burton’s dark animations found cult status some 30 years after Gorey’s work.

“The Hapless Children” exhibit features work from the 1950s through the ’90s, including some original drawings on loan from the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust in New York, Hischak said. And while the collection may be fascinating, the macabre content begs the question: Is it suitable for families with kids?

The answer is an unequivocal yes, says Hischak. Kids are resilient, he said. By age 7, most are ready for Edward Gorey’s books.

The Edward Gorey House is a 200-year-old sea captain’s home on Strawberry Lane, which was purchased by Gorey in 1979 after the artist spent multiple summers with his aunt in Barnstable while working in New York. Gorey moved to Yarmouth Port about six years later and lived in the home for 15 years, until his death in 2000. In his later years, Gorey was fond of visiting auctions, yard sales and estate sales around the Cape, and he collected everything from books and kitschy artwork to shabby-chic furniture, gaudy jewelry, antique glassware, and old farm implements.

If you want to see the exhibit and tour Gorey’s home, reservations are highly recommended as the Gorey House is limiting attendance to a dozen people at a time, due to safety concerns amid the pandemic. Face masks are mandatory, Hischak said, as is safe, social distancing among patrons exploring the 14-room house. After Memorial Day, the museum will likely bring back docents to answer questions and conduct formal tours through the home, he said.

A visit to the Gorey House, including a stop to pore over books and intriguing items at the museum store, should take an hour to 90 minutes, so you might look for a second destination to make a day of it. The area near Strawberry Lane and Route 6A is peppered with historic sites, including the nearby Winslow Crocker House, the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth, and the Yarmouth New Church, now a cultural center and performance venue.

There are also hiking trails and plenty of places for lunch. Heading west on Route 6A, you’ll find the Old Yarmouth Inn, Jack’s Outback and the Optimist Café. A few miles east is Royal II Restaurant and Grill, which is highly recommended by Hischak.

Hapless Children runs at the Edward Gorey House through Dec. 31. Email the museum at edwardgoreyhouse@verizon.net or call 508-362-3909. Find more information online at edwardgoreyhouse.org.

Andy Tomolonis is a textbook author, travel writer and freelance multimedia journalist.

Find your best intentions for the New Year

After the exhausting year that we all endured, maybe the goal for 2021 should be nothing more than finding new activities to bring us peace of mind. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to shed a few pounds, expand our minds and get more exercise. But this year especially, there may be the need to make our yearly vows manageable — and not a source of additional stress.

Find Balance — And Simplify Your Life

Deb Mareb, owner and instructor at Yoga of Yarmouth Port, prefers the word “intentions” over “resolutions” when describing the changes people make at the start of every year.

Instead of focusing on something that you don’t like about yourself and trying to change it, ask yourself: “What would be a nice picture of your life for you?” she said. Then bring in more of a positive outlook.

One result of the ongoing pandemic is that we were all forced to slow down, Mareb said, adding that slowing down while simplifying your life can improve your outlook. Relaxing your mind while moving your body helps, too — whether it’s part of an instructor-led yoga class or just getting outdoors to walk your dog and enjoy nature. 

If you want to try classes, Yoga of Yarmouth Port has a variety of on-site sessions inside the small studio at 161 Route 6A. Classes include a maximum of five participants, and everyone wears a mask, Mareb said. The studio also has Zoom classes for those who want to practice yoga at home, she said. Find more at YogaofYarmouthPort.com.

Tennis, Aerobics, Weights and More

Maybe you want more variety for your workouts. At Mid-Cape Athletic Club, 193 White’s Path in South Yarmouth, members can play tennis, build aerobic endurance on cardio machines, work out with weights or take a variety of classes — offered onsite and online.

Roughly 90 percent of the exercise classes at MCAC are now available to members via Zoom, said Director of Operations Jennifer Majewski. Among the many offerings: Barre, Cardio Sculpting, Pilates, Spin, Tabata and Zumba.

When the club shut down in the spring of 2020, Majewski said she sold more than half of the gym’s stationary bikes to members who now take Spin classes at home. She said on-site Spin classes will be returning soon, albeit with fewer bikes spaced farther apart to ensure safe social distancing.

Other safety measures at MCAC include wide spacing between exercise machines, improved air filtration, hand sanitizer stations throughout the club, 14-feet of marked spacing between class participants, and mandatory masks for everyone inside the gym, including on the tennis courts. Equipment, exercise areas and surfaces throughout the facility are cleaned with Viking Pure natural sanitizer, Majewski said.

Mid-Cape Athletic Club also has nutrition counseling and private coaching to help members strive for personal goals. Find out more about classes, programs and safety changes at MidCapeAthletic.com.

Healthy Body and an Enriched Mind

Maybe you want to stimulate your mind as well as move your body. If so, consider classes at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod.

Yoga for Wise Warriors! is offered online on Friday mornings. Sessions are accessed via Zoom, and they include some online social interaction before the yoga begins, followed by personal attention from instructor Lee Yunits throughout the hour.

The Cultural Center also runs Tai Chi classes, which are held in Owl Hall with a small number of clients who have plenty of space for social distancing. The routines in Tai Chi involve slow, methodical movements, and there’s not much heavy breathing, said Director of Education Amy Neill. But as with all classes at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, masks are required.

For those who feel more comfortable exercising at home, the Tai Chi instruction with Holly Heaslip is also available via Zoom, Neill said. However, the center is phasing out its hybrid online/physical classes and looking to begin a new program of online courses that will be available 24/7. Neill expects the new virtual classes will be scheduled in the coming months.

For creative development — which always helps nurture a positive attitude, the Cultural Center runs classes in visual arts, cooking, humanities, do-it-yourself projects, and kids’ activities. All of the courses can help improve your well-being just by participating in something new, Neill said.

“Every class that we offer is all about health and wellness, and just bettering your mind,” she explained. “Something about working with your hands or focusing on something new is always good for your mental health.”

Expand Your Reading…. And Your Horizons

The town’s libraries have been operating with limited hours and curbside pickup since early December, but there’s still plenty of ways to engage with other bookworms.

Read and review topical books online with the library’s Zoom book clubs. A mystery group meets on the second Thursday of every month, and a book discussion group meets on the fourth Thursday. Copies of the books  to be read and discussed are available in advance of each meeting, either via curbside pickup or through Outlook/Libby and Hoopla.

The library also has virtual craft and story times for young patrons. For info on any of the virtual programs call the South Yarmouth Library at 508-760-4820, ext. 1 or the West Yarmouth Library at 508-775-5602, ext. 2. You can also find more at the Yarmouth libraries’ website or sign up for the library newsletter to stay informed about new books and activities.

Practical Advice for Healthier Eating

Looking to eat healthier in 2021? Find advice on diet and nutrition without leaving your home by joining one of the food and nutrition programs hosted by Cape Cod Cooperative Extension.

The extension runs a variety of nutrition and food safety courses for adults, pre-schoolers, seniors. A new free phone-in series on nutrition targets local seniors, who may not be comfortable with the technology involved in video conferencing. The weekly sessions, promoted through the Yarmouth Senior Center, are held every Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. Each call-in program is taught by a Cape Cod Cooperative Extension nutrition educator and includes time for participants to ask questions from the experts, said Kim Concra, a Nutrition and Food Safety Specialist with the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension.

Upcoming programs include: Cooking for One or Two on Jan. 7; Blood Sugar and Sweet Treats, Jan. 14, Fruits and Breakfast, Jan. 21; and Citrus Fruits, Potassium and Blood Pressure on Jan. 28. Call 508-271-1520 for phone access. Learn more about additional nutrition programs at the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension website.

Andy Tomolonis is a textbook author, travel writer and freelance multimedia journalist.

Yarmouth residents light up the winter skies

The great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter isn’t the only light show in town this Christmas. Residents across Yarmouth, and presumably Cape Cod and beyond, have gone to extremes in making their properties merry and bright — with the emphasis on BRIGHT!

Thoroughfares, side streets and cul-de-sacs are ablaze with the colorful glow of lawn ornaments, giant snowmen, and brilliant LED lighting. 

“People need this in 2020,” said Adam Long, whose home at 32 Powhatan Road is festooned with hip-high candy canes, snowmen, polar bears, dazzling icicles and colors so bright that passing drivers often slow down to admire the display.

He and his wife, Alicia Wyatt, decorate their home every Christmas, but this year the couple got into the spirit earlier than normal — putting up their lights on Nov. 1 instead of waiting until after Thanksgiving. The first night he lit them up, he said a neighbor came over to thank him for giving people a reason to smile.

“That’s exactly the message I wanted,” Long said.

He’s noticed that more people around town have decorated their homes this season, and others agree.

At Anchor Ace Hardware on Route 28 in South Yarmouth, more customers came in to purchase lights this year than in past seasons, says Matt Tremblay, who handles store deliveries. Anchor Ace had a large inventory of holiday decorations to begin the year, and many of them have been sold, he said. LED strings are especially popular, because they save on electricity and the colors are so vibrant.

Local Realtor and Yarmouth resident Emily Shimansky has also noted the increase in holiday lighting, and she has her own theories about why.

More people are staying in Yarmouth year-round this year, she said, so there are more homes lit up for Christmas. Shimansky also posits that fewer people are traveling for the holidays, and because they stayed home, they got busy decorating. Her own parents opted not to go to Florida this year, so her dad, who used to decorate the family’s home, went to town with decorations this season.

Shimansky, who administers the Best of Yarmouth Facebook Group, has created a Google map of Yarmouth’s decorated homes to help others find the Christmas spirit. She said friends private-messaged her with the addresses of especially well-decorated homes, and she used their information to create the map’s destination points.

The map has more than two-dozen entries, with a few homes that are especially electric — one on Trophy Lane, another on Forest Road near the corner of Old Townhouse. Last weekend, she posted photos on the group’s page after taking a tour of her own map. Most people keep their lights on through the New Year, so there’s still plenty of time to catch the colors.

Shimansky’s suggestion: Make yourself some hot cocoa or a cup of coffee with peppermint in it; put some Christmas music on your car stereo; and take your household for a little drive. “It’s beautiful!”

Andy Tomolonis is a textbook author, travel writer and freelance multimedia journalist.

Great holiday gift ideas from Yarmouth shops

So you want to do the right thing and shop locally to support small businesses. But without the Yarmouth Port Stroll or another big holiday event on the calendar this year, you might be searching for a place to begin. And time is getting tight.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

With some pre-shopping research, we’ve compiled a list of great local gift ideas — each one memorable, unique, and available from a Yarmouth-area business. Plus, the stores we’ve highlighted here all provide COVID-safe shopping — whether indoors with social distancing measures, through online sales, or via telephone and curbside pickup. So deck the halls, check your list, and shop local.

Owl betcha they like this!

Got a bird-lover on your gift list? Head straight to Wild Birds Unlimited in South Yarmouth for feeders, foods, bird-bath heaters and other habitat helpers.

One of this year’s hottest items is a screech owl house, said retail associate Patty Donohoe. Owls typically choose their nesting sites before the winter, so right now is the perfect time to set up a nesting box, she said. Donohoe cautions that you’ll need a ladder, as the owl boxes should be placed in a tree, between 8 feet and 20 feet high.

It may take a while for the owls to locate your nesting box, but if you’ve heard the birds in your neighborhood, that’s a good sign, Donohoe explained. As the name suggests, Eastern Screech Owls will shriek at night. But they also make a haunting whinny, much like the sound of a distant horse.

Because screech owls are common on Cape Cod, Wild Birds Unlimited keeps the cedar nesting boxes in stock, says store owner Tom Thompson. The owl homes come with a bag of wood shavings and sell for just under $75. Call the WBU store at (508) 760-1996 or visit the Wild Birds Unlimited website for more info. Or drop by the shop at 1198 Main Street in South Yarmouth.

Crystal power at Instant Karma

Maybe you want to help a friend fight off the creeping negativity. Then consider giving the gift of earth energy with a crystal from Instant Karma of Cape Cod.

The new-age gift shop stocks amethyst, opalite, tourmaline, quartz and “things you could look at for hours,” says Daniel Thibodeau, an associate at the West Yarmouth location.

He says a geode can make a great centerpiece on the living room coffee table, but there are also stones you can carry around in your pocket for personal energy. “Each stone has a different kind of property.”

Thibodeau recommends a free-standing quartz or amethyst cluster, which are relatively inexpensive — priced in the $20 to $50 range. “They’re also the kind of thing that any person is going to stop and look at and appreciate,” he said. “They really do take your breath away.”

Instant Karma also has CBD products and a hippie boutique. Check out the options online at instantkarmacapecod.com.

Something sparkly from Harvest of Barnstable

Put some magic into your holiday gift bag this year, with a glittering home decor item from Harvest of Barnstable.

The Sparkle Tree is a 14-inch acrylic tree, complete with a silver base and star on the top. But the real magic lies in the battery-powered LED lighting, which illuminates the glitter floating inside.

The trees sell for $49.95 and are a big item this year, says store owner Pamela Parker.

Harvest of Barnstable also stocks locally-made wreaths, wall designs and floral arrangements, along with jewelry and bath items. “We make all of our wreaths and baskets and arrangements,” Parker said. “So we’re really pretty unique.”

Call or visit the store at 89 Willow Street in Yarmouth Port, 508-362-4595 or order online.

Gifts from local artists at Design Works

Looking for something completely different — like maybe a set of mussel shell tree ornaments, a Sandy Neck beach towel or musky-scented Sea Clay Soap from the Atlantic Sea Co. in Falmouth?

You’ll find a wide assortment of locally made gifts at Design Works. Shopping local is important, says store owner Margaret Hill, and buying local items made by local artists is even more so. The Yarmouth Port shop stocks hand-made ceramic bowls, hand-painted holiday ornaments, platters, mugs and other gift items — made by New England craftspeople, she said.

Because of the pandemic, local artists who typically sell their ware at craft fairs and festivals haven’t had the same opportunities this year, she explained. There have been some virtual festivals, but people like to actually see the pieces they buy, she said, noting that the small store allows them to do just that.

If you’re short on gift ideas, The Design Works website features a gift-buying guide, as well as items in its Holiday Collection. Visit the shop at 159 Main Street, Yarmouth Port, or order online.

Need more local gift options?

If you still haven’t found the right gift, here are a few more suggestions.

  • Find something in green at Agway of Cape Cod, 686 Route 134, South Dennis. The farm supply store stocks wreaths, trees and myriad items for the gardener on your gift list. If you want a gift that will be cherished for years, consider a dwarf citrus tree, which can be grown indoors during winter months and placed outside during the summer. Meyer lemon trees are especially productive and easy to grow, with aromatic white blossoms followed by large and flavorful fruit.
  • For friends with a sweet tooth, try the Toffee Sampler at Robin’s Toffee by the Sea, 12 White’s Path in South Yarmouth. The “deliciously addictive” toffee is made from a family recipe by Robin Costa. The toffee sampler includes original toffee, plus dark chocolate sea salt toffee, Vienna coffee toffee, peppermint toffee, and more. Check out other options at Robin’s Toffee by the Sea website.
  • If you’re looking for a special toy, head to Cape Cod Toy Chest, which is running a month of Black Friday specials. Deals include 20 percent off books for kids, as well as 20 percent off items from Mellissa & Doug, Learning Journey, and Wild Republic. Check out the options online and visit or call the store at 529 Route 28, West Yarmouth, 508-593-8699. Finally, don’t forget to grab a Toadally Funky Frog, free with any purchase.

For even more local gift ideas, check out the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce’s Shop Local directory, with a listing of local stores and links to their websites.

Beginning Dec. 10,  participating stores will receive visits from Salty Sally, with daily photos posted on social media. Guess the location correctly, and you’ll be entered to win a gift basket of Yarmouth goodies. Be sure to follow and like the YCC’s Facebook page.

Andy Tomolonis is a nonfiction author, travel writer and multimedia journalist.

Shop Local this Holiday Season

Yarmouth is the perfect place to do your holiday shopping! Here is a list of local retailers you can support during the holiday season:

Salty Sally on the Shelf Contest

This holiday season we are promoting our local businesses by having Salty Sally visit various shops in Yarmouth!

Starting on December 10th, a picture of Salty Sally will be taken each day leading up to Christmas and will be posted on social media! You will have the opportunity to guess where she is each day. Every time you guess correctly, you will be entered to win a gift basket full of Yarmouth goodies!

Be sure to follow and like our Facebook page!

Thank you sponsors

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Halloween Fun by the Carload

Looking for a way to give your children a treat this Halloween — without putting their health and safety at risk?

Check out the Yarmouth Halloween Spooktacular event — a collaboration between the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, Yarmouth Recreation and the Yarmouth Drive-In. The event — set for the afternoon and early evening of Halloween at the Drive-in on Route 28 — will feature costumes and a sing-along with the popular Toe Jam Puppet Band, trick-or-treats and a Halloween movie.

The cost is $15 per carload, with a maximum of six people per vehicle.

The idea came about via an eerie coincidence said Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce Marketing, Communications, and Events Director Jennifer Werner. She explained that the Chamber and Yarmouth Recreation were brainstorming about a way to provide safe Halloween experiences for Yarmouth youngsters and were considering a town-owned facility for the event. But in mid planning, they were contacted by representatives of the Drive-in, who also wanted to offer a safe Halloween event so the three organizations decided to partner together.

The Oct. 31 fun begins at 3:30 — as the Yarmouth Drive-in gates open and cars begin arriving and parking, Werner said. From 3:30 until around 4:15 as cars park and settle into their vehicle suites, the Toe Jam Puppet Band will perform live on stage — with all the action streamed to the Drive-in’s towering high-def screens.

As cars arrive, the children will all receive a gift packet containing coloring books, stickers, and temporary tattoos to keep them busy while vehicles settle into their spaces, Werner said.

The Yarmouth Drive-in was planned with social distancing in mind, and each parking area has ample room for remaining at least 6 feet from other patrons. Attendees are required to wear COVID-19 approved masks and to stay in their vehicle suites unless they are using the restroom. There will also be a mobile video camera operator roaming around the Drive-in grounds, capturing the children’s costumes and streaming them to jumbotrons — like you often see at sporting events, Werner explained.

Trick-or-treating will begin around 4:30 p.m., with the assistance of volunteers dressed in costumes and wearing COVID-19 masks, along with disposable gloves. The volunteers will roam from car to car, passing out candy to the children. Werner said the treats will likely be generous handfuls of candy, under the assumption that children will not be going out for their traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating. Werner said all the candy was purchased by the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce to ensure that it is all individually wrapped and that nothing could be tampered with.

Around 5 p.m., when the trick-or-treating has ended, the Drive-in will show the animated children’s movie, Hotel Transylvania.

The 91-minute, animated film features is rated PG and features the voices of Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Fran Drescher, David Spade and others.  Werner said the Chamber reviewed multiple titles and settled on the most child-friendly option.

The movie should end before 7 p.m., which will allow families ample time for any other Halloween activities they might want to pursue, Werner said.

Find more information about the Yarmouth Halloween Spooktacular and to purchase tickets visit the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce website.

Andy Tomolonis is a nonfiction author, travel writer and multimedia journalist.

Think outside the bogs for cranberry culture

Autumn is cranberry-picking season in Yarmouth and much of Cape Cod, as the tart-flavored berries ripen to brilliant hues of scarlet and burgundy. If you enjoy colorful photos, think of the bright red berries floating en masse on blue water that reflects the even bluer October sky. Spectacular!

Cranberry Bogs

Unfortunately, local cranberry festivals have all but disappeared this year due to the social distancing requirements needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss the colorful harvest. You just have to think outside the bogs.

Glenn Van Wickle, manager of the Route 6 Visitor’s Center in Barnstable, says people from around the U.S. are constantly asking him where they can see the cranberry bogs — even in spring and summer months when there’s not much to look at. When harvest season arrives, Van Wickle advises visitors to check out two of his favorite cranberry viewing spots in Yarmouth.

One of his choices is located just north of Route 6, near White’s Path, where Mayflower Terrace / Knob Hill Road veers off North Main Street. The road runs parallel to the Mid-Cape Highway at the southern end of the bog, offering unobstructed views of the crimson acreage.

Another spot is located on West Yarmouth Road, near the intersection of Buck Island Road. There’s a small pull-out on West Yarmouth Road near the northern end of the bog where a few cars can park, Van Wickle said. There’s also ample space for walking around the bog, and the owner allows visitors as long as they stay off the bogs and avoid areas where people are working.

You can also access adjacent bogs via the Raymond J. Syrjala Conservation Area, a 15-acre wooded parcel with a main trail that begins along Plashes Brook. It follows a fence to an opening that leads to the bogs, where hikers are allowed to stroll, as long as they keep their pets on leashes and respect the workers who are tending to the bogs. Find more about the Syrjala Conservation Area at the Town of Yarmouth website.

Unfortunately, growers typically don’t share the date of their harvests, Van Wickle said.

Cranberry Bog Tours

If you want to learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cranberries and take a tour of a working bog, check out Cranberry Bog Tours in Harwich.

Leo and Andrea Cakounes own the 50 acre site, where they tend to some livestock and manage 20 acres of certified organic cranberry bogs. They also host guided bog tours covering the myriad techniques that cranberry growers employ from January through December.

Tours are still operating this year — albeit under restrictions required to protect customers and employees from the spread of COVID-19. Vehicles equipped to carry 20 passengers now carry  just 10-12 people, so slots fill up quickly and space is limited, he said.

Plan on a two-hour visit, which includes the 90-minute tour, along with some time to check out the farm’s livestock. Cranberry bog tour reservations are mandatory.

If you’re hoping to watch workers flood the bog and use booms to corral and harvest the berries, you’re out of luck here. That’s not part of the tour, Cakounes explained. He said the work involved with harvesting berries is intensive and over quickly. On days when workers are harvesting, there is too much activity at the bog to host a tour.

Find out more about the tours and pricing (and book a reservation) at the Cranberry Bog Tours website.

Did you know?

Maybe you already knew that cranberries are not grown in water — even though bogs are often flooded for harvesting and for cold-weather protection. If you’re curious about other cranberry facts, here are some items from Ocean Spray growers cooperative:

  • The first recorded cranberry harvest was in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1816.
  • There are nearly 1,000 cranberry growers in America, with most of the berries grown in five states: Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. Massachusetts has more than 14,000 acres dedicated to cranberry production.
  • Americans consume about 80 million pounds of cranberries during Thanksgiving week, which is about 20 percent of the 400 million pounds of cranberries the U.S. consumes in a year.
  • Cranberries are picked using both dry and wet harvesting techniques. The fresh cranberries that you buy bagged in grocery stores are dry-picked, while the berries used in juices, sauce, and for dried cranberries are picked via wet harvesting.

Andy Tomolonis is a nonfiction author, travel writer and multimedia journalist.