By Tom Eastman
HELLO TO THE SNOW, AND so long to 2016, as the countdown to 2017's arrival heads into the homestretch after a grueling political year, when Tweets became "HUUUUGGGE" and actor Alec Baldwin's impersonation of the Donald on "Saturday Night Live" was almost as outrageous as the real thing.
The campaign was even more surreal than even "SNL" could imagine, with name calling like we hadn't seen since our third grader playground days and references to "Lyin Ted," "Little Marco," "Low Energy Jeb," and "Crooked Hillary," to name a few.
Add in Putin and the possibility that Russia messed with our election, as intelligence agencies allege, and you've got all the makings for a great movie — except that this is for real.
Trump surprised all the political pundits, tapping into an anger in the heartland. Implausible as it once seemed, come Jan. 20, Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
Pro or con, it makes us all shake our heads and say, "What a country?"
We'll check back with you in a year's time. For the country, and the world, we must hope for the best. Republican, Democrat or Independent, we're all Americans first, and it's traditionally American to sincerely wish the leader of the free world success.
IN THE MEANTIME, we're counting our blessings this Christmas holiday week as we dig out from a hefty snow storm. It could not have come at a better time, and was truly a tremendous gift from Santa and Mother Nature this Christmas holiday week, giving the alpine areas and ski touring centers a true boost as they host all of the vacationing skiers. Hallelujah!
SO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING for New Year's?
Cranmore Ski Resort in North Conway will have an early fireworks show at 6:30 p.m. as part of its Cranapalooza New Year's Eve celebration.
King Pine will end its day with a torchlight parade down the slope at 9:20 p.m., followed by fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
North Conway's Schouler Park will host a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m., presented by Community Celebrations.
For music, Stone Mountain Arts Center (207-935-7292), featuring Jonathan Edwards in the early show and Girls, Guns and Glory for the late show); and M&D Playhouse (603-733-5275) will present a New Year's Eve Gala beginning at 7:30 p.m., with music by Al Shafner, Heather Pierson and Miss Maybelle and Slim Pickins.
Be sure to check the ads in The Sun for local establishments hosting New Year's eve dinner specials r visit the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce at www.mtwashingtonvalley.org for further information.
LOOKING BACK OVER THE past year, one sad note that stands out is the loss of so many celebrities on a national scale, with the year ending with the death of Carrie Fisher of "Star Wars" fame, followed by her mother Debbie Reynolds' death a day later.
Music fans lost many talented musicians over the past year: in January, visionary British artist David Bowie died at age 69 after battling cancer. Others included Prince, 57; Glen Frey, 67, of the Eagles; Keith Emerson, 71, and Greg Lake, 69, both of Emerson, Lake and Palmer; legendary Beatles producer Sir George Martin, 90; Leonard Cohen, 82, Leon Russell, 74; Paul Kanter, 74, of Jefferson Airplane and pop crooner George Michael, 53.
On the sports scene, significant passings included legendary golfer and good guy Arnold Palmer, Gordie "Mr. Hockey" Howe, 88; and the Greatest, Muhammad Ali, 74. Others include the Philadelphia Flyers' Rick MacLeish, 66; 1984 American downhiller Bill Johnson, 55; Marlins pitching ace Jose Fernandez, 24; NBA Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond, 74; former Chicago Bears coach Buddy Ryan, 82; and UTenn women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, 64;
Broadcasting lost CBS' Morley Safer, 84, and PBS' Gwen Ifill, 61, as well as sports announcer Pat Sager, former catcher and announcer Joe Garagiola, 90; and colorful tennis writer and broadcaster Bud Collins, 86, who came up with the phrase "Wimbledon of the Woods" to describe the valley's Volvo International Tennis Tournament.
In politics, we lost Nancy Reagan, 94; Janet Reno, 78; Fidel Castro, 90, and American hero, astronaut and senator John Glenn, 95.
Locally we lost many, many notables, including Leona Reny Hill, Peter Pinkham, Kennett High baseball coach Bob Burns Sr. and White Mountain Aquatic Center proponent and Iron Man competitor Jim Soroka. Others include spirited photographer and Democratic activist Dick Pollock, town meeting entertainer and road visionary Ralph Wiggin, the North Conway Community Center's Roger Grucel, Dr. Donald Derse, Starr Hill, Plum Potter, Hugh Hastings II, Bartlett activist Henry Villaume and Bretton Woods avid skier and Friend of the Rooster Tom LeBosquet.
We miss them all. We will have an overview of local passages in an upcoming issue of The Sun in January.
ON THE MUSICAL FRONT, highlights of the year included the continuing success of Jonathan Sarty's Cold River Radio Show, which concluded its fourth bi-monthly season at Theater in the Wood in November with a show by Schooner Fare. Other favorite shows in the series included a performance by the Tom Dean Trio and Acoustic Nuisance, the latter of which featured a surprise playing of the bagpipes on an original Kevin Dolan song by the ever-talented Davey Armstrong with Kevin, Simon Crawford and the Amarantos String Quartet.
Also on the local entertainment scene in '16, Jonathan, in conjunction with the Wildcat Tavern, launched the Cold River Mini Concert Series, featuring many of the acts which have appeared in the Cold River series, including our all-time New England regional favorite songsmith ad storyteller, Cormac McCarthy. Next up on Jan. 21 is Matthew Stubbs and The Antiquas.
Also presenting great shows this year has been Tuckerman Brewing Company. Next up, on Jan. 7 are the fabulous local duo of Miss Maybell and Slim Pickins (who had a great year in 2016), and Huntress Bridge Road Jan. 14, both 2 to 5 p.m.
Arts Jubilee in its 34th season had a great run at Cranmore last summer, except for the first show by the Beach Boys tribute band, the Beach Bums, who were hoping for "Good Vibrations" for the first show of the summer but got rained out.
They plan to be back for the '17 series, so they and their fans will be "Surfin' USA" at the base of Cranmore come July 13. (Other acts planned for the '17 season include the triumphant return of valley favorites Ceili Rain July 20, the traditional pops concert with fireworks July 27, TBA Aug. 3 and percussive artists Entrain Aug. 10).
It as also a year that saw support for Mountain Top Music and its plans to restore the Majestic Theater, with a first annual fundraising gala held at the Omni Mount Washington Hotel Nov. 6.
M&D Playhouse continued to draw good houses for their plays, and were nominated for several N.H. Theatre Awards at the end of the year.
ALSO NOTEWORTHY was filmmaker and climber Thom Pollard of Jackson's ascent of the tallest peak in the world, as Pollard, 54, on his third trip to the mountain scaled 29,035-foot Mount Everest with his friend Lhakpa Sherpa May 22.
In hiking news, Marianne Borowski, Diane McGregor and Jackie Hamblet, all of Glen, completed their quest for the New England Hundred Highest.
Gorham's Mike Pelchat of Androscoggin Search and Rescue retired in October as longtime manager of Mount Washington State Park.
Endurance athlete Andrew Drummond, 35, of Madison in late July completed the more than 240-mile White Mountain Direttissima, a self-supported, continuous hike/run through the area connecting all of the White Mountain National Forest's forty-eight 4,000-foot mountains.
Drummond bested the record for the multi-day mountain trek by 56 hours, beating the previous mark of eight days, eight hours and 37 minutes.
In non-hiking sports news, the Nashua Mud Gumbys in September won their eighth world mud football championship by defeating the 19-time champion Muddas Football Club as the end-of-game buzzer sounded to break a tie, winning 20 to 14 in the three-day, 17-game, double-elimination 2016 Mud Bowl at Steve Eastman Memorial Field at Hog Coliseum. Mud Bowl was featured on Boston's "Dirty Water" TV and also on WMUR TV 9's "Chronicle" program, thus bringing exposure to valley tourism.
In golf news, in fall, longtime PGA Pro Larry Gallagher and wife, Kathy, retired from the North Conway Country Club after 27 years. And, this just in, avid golfer and summertime North Conway weather observer Briggs Bunker, 86, scored the second hole-on-one of his career in Davenport, Fla., Dec. 28. He and wife Bobbi celebrated by having dinner at the Texas Roadhouse (being snowbirds they are probably also celebrating missing this latest North Conway storm!).
And, lastly, from mud to roses, just as Kennett High senior Max Belkin, 17, has marched with the Kennett High Drumline in Mud Bowl's "Tournament of Mud" Parade in North Conway the past few Septembers — now he will be marching in the Rose Bowl's Tournament of Roses® Parade as a member of the Bands of America (BOA) Honor Band in Pasadena, Calif., come Jan. 2. Drum on, Max!
So, that's just a few of the highlights of the year that was ....
IN HAPPY BIRTHDAY greetings this week, we salute: ever-soulful dancer and school bus driver Pam Benson, percussionist Ed Bonello, MWV Hogs co-founder Richard DeAngelis, Cathy Hunter and Selectman Mary Seavey (all Jan. 1); Mary Mack (Jan. 2); Christy Howell Pacheco, Ken"Elvis" Rokes, David Gotjen, and horse listener Paula Lambie (Jan. 5); Danny "DD" Del Rossi, Sun press room manager Frank Haddy (Jan. 6).
THAT'S ALL FROM this growing snowbank. Enjoy the snow — and, Go Pats Saturday! See in Schouler Park for the New Year's Eve fireworks!