Home Sweet Holiday Home

Home Sweet Holiday Home “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” Those words ring especially true for Denise Barker of East Sandwich. Her charming Cape is a constantly evolving expression of her love for Cape Cod, photography, nature, and her family, especially during the holiday season, with two crackling fireplaces spreading warmth and freshly baked Christmas treats piled high on pretty pedestal plates displayed on the kitchen counter. Denise makes the holiday season special with all her festive, uniquely creative touches.

In 2002 when Denise and her husband, Scott, were house-hunting they had a punch list of wants and needs for their family of five. The couple loved the historic character of East Sandwich, and coming upon an unfinished Cape with a yard full of pear and apple trees they knew they had found the right place.

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Let There Be Light

Let there be Light For Provincetown and even beyond, it’s definitely a symbol that Thanksgiving is here. It’s always the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The lights always go on at 6 p.m., and it’s always kind of a surprise to see who’s going to light the monument.

It’s definitely a time when the town is hopping. We probably had over 1,200 people at last year’s lighting event. Little by little, it becomes big—the museum fills and the crowd swells outdoors. Unfortunately, the weather’s always a little unpredictable. Sometimes it’s a little cold.

We’ve had rain and we’ve had snow. Last year was pretty good—it was blustery, but people enjoyed it. It’s a very brief ceremony. We don’t hold them out for long speeches. And as we say, there’s plenty of room in our 10,000-square-foot museum for people to warm up.

There are 19 strands of light and they each have 166 lights on them. The trivia is that it totals 3,154 lights. They’re all hand-put-in and hand-taken-out every year—Carlos Silva has done it for many, many years now. And they take a fair amount of abuse up here in the winds.

Clearly, the best seat is right up here [on High Pole Hill]. It’s kind of an unprecedented view, and you’re up here with a thousand of your closest friends. It can be seen from afar—people can watch from downtown—but the real treat, I think, is up here on the grounds of the monument.

People sometimes come dressed up as pilgrims—the whole garb. One time we actually had two people that had gotten married here talk all of their family into coming as pilgrims.

I think it symbolizes the beginning of winter. It marks that change of the seasons, when those of us that live on the Cape kind of reclaim the Cape. The lighting certainly brings tourism in, but it’s a chance for residents of Cape Cod to assemble and have a moment of cheer before the Thanksgiving holidays. It’s preparation for everyone, to know that winter’s coming. It’s a bright moment.

Visit for more information about Share the Light 2011.

Riding the Holiday Rails

Riding the Holiday Rails

The gentle clickety-clack rocking while passengers take in panoramic views of cranberry bogs, salt marshes, and quaint Cape Cod villages transports riders on the Cape Cod Central Railroad holiday excursions to a world far removed from the season’s hustle and bustle. From elegant dinners and dramatic murder mysteries to magical rides on the North Pole Express, travelers of all ages can ramble on Cape Cod’s generations-old tracks and experience the romance of the rails.

On the Thanksgiving Dinner Train, departing from Hyannis at 1 p.m. on Nov. 24, the passing scenery of hidden Cape Cod creates a captivating setting as the train makes its way toward the canal and over the railroad bridge, before returning to Hyannis three hours later. Bring an appetite: A leisurely five-course meal featuring a choice of traditional turkey, pistachio-encrusted salmon, herb-encrusted tenderloin crevette, or vegetarian roast vegetable manicotti is served onboard.

On Dec. 2, 3, and 4, the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce sponsors seven trips for children and families aboard the North Pole Express as part of its Holly Days festivities. During the 45-minute ride from Sandwich to West Barnstable—Cape Cod’s North Pole—Santa strolls through the train and his helpers read The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. When they arrive at the North Pole, volunteer elves and reindeers greet the children at a tent where they enjoy hot chocolate and cookies and have their picture taken before returning to Sandwich station. “The children firmly believe they have been to the North Pole and back,” says Dede Kiely, Cape Cod Central Railroad vice president for sales and marketing. All children receive a bell as a memento of their trip.

Grown-ups have their own fun on the Murder Mystery Train, which takes place on Dec. 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. Costumed cast members from the Cape Cod Cabaret mingle with guests during a five-course dinner as they try to solve a Dickens-themed murder. “It has a good plot and festive holiday music,” Kiely says. “And usually, someone gets decked in the halls.” For information and reservations on the dinner trains, visit or call (508) 771-3800. To reserve a seat on the North Pole Express, visit
–Susan Spencer

Have you had any fun lately?

“Have you had any fun lately?” That is what my brother Connor had the nerve to ask me when we sat down for lunch together. His question gave me cause for pause. I needed a little time to think about what fun means to me nowadays. Operating a small publishing company amidst the economic conditions of recent years has been, shall we say, pre-occupying. So, I thought about his question. Read more…

Island Classic

Terry Pommett Nantucket will host the Opera House Cup, August 18 to 21, part of the North American Circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. The Opera House Cup takes its name from the eponymous venue whose owner, in 1973, had the idea of organizing a regatta reserved for wooden sail boats. It is the oldest regatta of this kind to take place along the East Coast.  Every year, a large fleet of vintage boats gathers in a thrilling spectacle. The Opera House Cup has become a summer spectator tradition as the Rainbow Fleet escorts the boats past Brant Point lighthouse to the start.

Past participants include former America’s Cup winners (Intrepid, Weatherly, Columbia), well-known competitors (Shamrock, Endeavor) and  other notable yachts like the Mystic Seaport schooner Brilliant and General Patton’s When and If. On the smaller side, prestigious boats in the Dragon class and the classic Herreshoff-designed and Nantucket-built Alerions also often participate. Yachts must be made in wood or metal, built according to traditional designs and methods, with wood or aluminium spars.

Terry Pommett The North American Circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge takes place in three locations throughout the season: the Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta in Marblehead, the Opera House Cup in Nantucket and the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta in Newport.

For each regatta, an Officine Panerai prize is presented to the overall winner and to the winners of each class. The overall winners for each of the three regattas receive their prizes in a ceremony held during the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta in Newport. To compete for the final trophy, each boat must participate in at least two of the three events in the schedule, one of which must be the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta. Terry Pommett

The Opera House Cup Regatta is the grand finale of Nantucket Race Week, and the events culminate with the OHC Awards Party, held under the tents on Jetties Beach on Sunday evening. Good food, drinks, videos of the OHC race, a silent auction, presentation of the awards and music keep the party going late into the evening. The OHC Awards Party is one of “the parties of the season” on Nantucket.

For information on the Opera House Cup, go to


Great Gardens

Spohr Gardens enchants visitors all year long

Lindsay Oliver Margaret and Charles Spohr began creating this lovely garden around their home in the 1950’s and gladly received an ever-increasing number of visitors who came to see its rumored beauty. After their deaths, the gardens were left to the Margaret K. Spohr and Charles D. Spohr Charitable Trust with the specification that the property be open to the public every day of the year from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with no admission fee. For more information, visit
By Lindsay Oliver

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Endless Cycle

Not long from now on a Friday morning in August, Kevin Leach will climb on his bike in Plymouth and pedal 100 miles to Provincetown. Stacey Hedman

He and a few friends will cycle hard for six or seven hours. They’ll cross the Bourne Bridge, traverse the Service Road, follow back roads to the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Dennis, and pass Cahoon Hollow Beach in Wellfleet.

From there, the group will take the back roads in Truro and finally get into Provincetown, feeling like kings of the road as they breeze down Commercial Street. There, they will stop for lunch—and a quick change of clothes—at the Crown & Anchor.
“That’s a great day,” Leach says of this trip he makes every August, usually on a Friday because the bike paths are less crowded. “The whole thing is great. It’s so different throughout. … Probably the most memorable part is the end of the bike path all the way to Provincetown. The scenery and the whole idea of being out on the Outer Cape and then heading into Provincetown and being on Commercial Street is fun.” Read more…

Cape Cod Fireworks 2013 – Cape Cod Parades

Don’t miss this years Cape Cod fireworks 2013! Check the dates below to find parades and fireworks displays in your area! From everyone here at Cape Cod Life Publications, cheers for a happy and safe 4th of July weekend!

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60 Years Under the Big Top

Cape Cod Life

On first sight, the giant blue vinyl tent pitched over cement risers beside a gravel parking lot west of downtown Hyannis seems an unlikely spot for a 60-year success story. But once inside, as childhood tent-by-the-campfire instincts take over, the audience of 2,000 swiftly bonds with the performers beneath the canopy’s cozy cocoon. “The fans are so close that they become part of the show!” rock star Melissa Etheridge exclaimed following a recent appearance. Read more…