HAPPY POST-TURKEY DAY AND BLACK Friday greetings to you and your well-stuffed shopping bird.

Things looked busy around North Conway on Black Friday, with Settlers Green, Walmart and Eastern Mountain Sports looking particularly busy. Amazingly, bucking the shopping frenzy trend, REI was closed on Turkey Day as well as on Friday, termed “Opt Out Day,” when employees were encouraged to head outside to spend time with their family and friends.

Refreshing in many ways, eh?

Among the local restaurants that provided free Thanksgiving meals on Thursday was 302 West Smokehouse (207-935-3021) at 636 Main St. in Fryeburg, Maine.

“We had about 150 people and we raised around $650 for the Fryeburg Dinner Bell, which was great,” said proprietor Bob Wentworth. “I had thought of maybe not doing it again because in recent years it has become more of a social thing, but this year it was a great day for everyone, with many volunteers showing up to help bus tables and people making the donations. People were very grateful and it was a very nice day.”

Likewise, Nick Panno, new owner and innkeeper of The Bernerhof Inn (603-383-4200) in Bartlett, said they served 12 turkeys, withsix volunteers and 100 guests attending, resulting “in an amazing Thanksgiving gathering for those in need. Our hearts are full!”

Likewise, Ralph W. Shirley American Legion Post 46 on Tasker Hill Road in Conway had a full turnout of 250 for their free Thanksgiving feast with 45 deliveries as well. The event was sponsored by Post 46, Squadron 46, Women’s Auxiliary and White Mountain Moose.

“At one point they had to bring out another table because it was so full,” said bartender Tina Bryant.

TRIBUTES TO BROTHER DAVE: Personally, your intrepid turkey-loving reporter had a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast at my sister-in-law Sarah’s Thursday afternoon with family. After our recent loss of our eldest brother, David L. Eastman, 76, it was especially wonderful to be together and to honor Dave’s contributions as a naturalist and as a a Silver Star-awarded Army Vietnam helicopter veteran.

Since Dave’s passing Nov. 18, people have been so kind in expressing their condolences to my family and me, as well as to share their admiration for his weekly “Country Ecology” nature column in this newspaper, published in our Saturday editions, as well as his radio program of the same name aired on local station WMWV 93.5-FM.

Many have said they would love for both to continue, and we are pondering that possibility, as he has more than a year’s worth of unpublished columns written. The radio station is also interested in such a proposal. So, stay tuned.

And again, thank you to everyone for their thoughts.

As reader Richard Chrenko of Glen wrote, “I never met him, but I feel I really knew him because of the many articles of his that I read over the years. I was always amazed at the wide variety of subjects he wrote about, but more so at the depth of knowledge he had about each subject. Our community will be at a loss over someone who not only knew his subject but could also write well about it.”

Eaton’s Johnny Edge of Rockhouse Mountain Farm — a fellow birder, like Dave — wrote that he would miss their many phone conversations, saying, “I am sure going to miss those calls: ‘Hey, Johnny, what are you seeing over there?’ he’d ask. And, every now and then, I would have a scarlet tanager or indigo bunting or anything he did not have. He liked that and would proceed to tell me WHY I had them and he didn’t! … He was always interesting and leaving me looking forward to our next talk.”

Won’t we all.

NORTH CONWAY NO. 2 SKI TOWN: According to Marti Mayne of the MWV Chamber of Commerce, North Conway has been No. 2 in the list of Top 10 North American Ski Towns behind Bethel, Maine (home to Sunday River), and ahead of Jasper, Alberta, Canada, in USA Today’s /10Best Readers’ Choice Awards.

Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center made it as No. 10 in the list of Top 10 Cross Country Resorts. Topping that list was Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colo. Great Glen was the only eastern cross country center to be included in the Top 10 list.

Of course, we all know that we’ve got seven great touring centers, each with their own flair: Bear Notch (which is holding its annual open house and pass sales this weekend); Bretton Woods, Great Glen, Jackson Ski Touring, King Pine and MWV Ski Touring.

OFF TO A GREAT START; With all the early snow high up and good snowmaking temperatures, the ski season is off to a great start locally.

Bretton Woods (603-278-3320) alpine has 17 trails and four of 10 lifts open, including the new eight-person gondola and also has 15 kilometers of skate skiing terrain open; Cranmore (603-356-5543) is operating weekends with 10 trails and four lifts and Wildcat (603) 466-3326) has seven trails, including top-to-bottom skiing and 2,100 feet of vertical on the Lynx Trail. Wildcat has received 16 inches of snow in the past seven days! Great Glen Trails opened Friday and has a craft fair today. Jackson Ski Touring is also now open.

‘TIMELESS’ TONIGHT: Cranmore is hosting the premiere of Warren Miller’s latest film, “Timeless” presented by Volkswagen, on Nov. 30. Doors will open tonight at 6 p.m., with the movie starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 online at cranmore.com or at the door the day of the movie.  Advanced reservations are highly recommended. For Friday night’s premiere, featured skier of the film, two-time Queen of Corbet’s Champion and North Conway native, Caite Zeliff, was in-house to sign autographs.

IN OTHER ENTERTAINMENT highlights, Cambridge jazz vocalist Cassandre McKinley and the Cold River Radio Band will be performing at the Wildcat Inn & Tavern in Jackson on Dec. 1 from 5:30 p.m.

The evening of dinner, dancing and music hosted by Stu Dunlop and presented by Jonathan Sarty and his Cold River Radio Band will launch a bustling month of December.

The event will support local non-profit music school Mountain Top Music.

Reservations are required by calling (603) 383-4245. Tickets are $30 per person to benefit Mountain Top Music. Dinner is not included in the ticket price.

The Wildcat will present Acoustic Nuisance on Dec. 14 in another Cold River Mini Concert.

BLUES SUNDAY: After hosting the Riley Parkhurst Project last night and tonight, the Red Parka Pub (603-383-4490) welcomes the L&M Rhythm Kings Dec. 1 beginning at 5:30 p.m.

SOUTH EATON MEETING HOUSE: Also taking place Dec. 1 is the rescheduled South Eaton Meeting House Thanksgiving Service at 3 p.m. featuring musical entertainment and light refreshments. Inclement weather forced the postponement last Sunday.

LOOKING AHEAD, Carol Noonan and Dana Cunningham with Max Dyer will present their annual Christmas concert at the Little White Church in Eaton Dec. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.). Tickets for this concert can only be purchased through the Stone Mountain Arts Center, or by calling (207) 935-7292.

IN HAPPY BIRTHDAYS this week, we salute: Pat Sell and Randall Cooper (belatedly, 11-28); Lynn Saunders (today); Brett Newton and Bobbi Steele-Marotta (12-1); Beth Funicella (12-2); the Eastern Slope Airport’s David Cullinan (12-3); trumpeter Marvin Haber, the MWVEC’s Jac Cuddy, former CSRR owner Russ Seybold, George Robinson, Milwaukee Mike Rocheleau and recently lifetime achievement hospitality honoree Carl Lindblade (12-4); the big 100 to Bruce Comer (also 12-4); Corinne Rober (12-5) and all others.

SEA DOG AND CONWAY REC: Sea Dog North Conway is hosting its Taste of the Teen Center as a benefit for the Conway Parks and Recreation Department Teen Center Sunday, Dec. 1, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. with lots of fun and games, live music and karaoke. Call (603) 356-0590 or go to seadogbrewing.com for the scoop.

HOPE TO SEE YOU WITH SANTA: Tom Roberge invites one and all revelers to join Santa in Schouler Park in North Conway at 5 p.m. today for a low-key celebration, despite that due to many unfortunate reasons, there is no official tree lighting in the park this year.

Wouldn’t it be great if volunteers furnished the hot chocolate and musicians provided the music? Just like a scene out of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Give him a call on the Santa hotline at (207) 850-1357 if you’d like to help.

Santa will be part of Traditionally Yours, Jackson festivities at 4 p.m. both today and tomorrow, with the tree lighting tomorrow and Bartlett celebrates its tree lighting beginning with refreshments at 3:30 p.m. at the Josiah Bartlett Elementary School and festivities in the park at 4 p.m.

AND FINALLY, don’t miss RSVP’s annual Festival of the Trees today and tomorrow at the Red Jacket Mountain View in North Conway.

Ho, Ho Ho!

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