300 guests from Upper Falls sat at one long table in Hemlock Gorge and had dinner together. Once again the food was fabulous, the atmosphere fantastic, and the weather was picture perfect.
The VIP Server crew this year featured returning waiters State Rep Ruth Balser, Aldermen Deb Crossley and John Rice, Tom O’Shaugnessy from Upper Falls Variety, Henry and Kim La from the Depot Coffee Shop, Area Councillors Marie Jackson and Jeff Riklin, Julie Burke from Newton Chiropractic. New members of the VIP Servers included Pastor John Bergman and his wife Ruth from the 2nd Baptist Church, Madeline Aucoin from Upper Falls Nursery, Village14’s own Greg Reibman, Jeff and Mary from All Star Liquors, and Wu Juian from Bob’s Sub Stop.
A few new wrinkles were added this year. The guest list climbed from 250 to 300. The Echo Bridge entrance had a great big banner. The Baptist Church bells began ringing at 5PM as all the guests began arriving on foot across Echo Bridge.
Another great new addition this year was the after dinner musical campfire. Alderman Ted Hess-Mahan was drafted as the “Feast’s Pete Seeger”. Ted did a fabulous job of leading the music with lots of guests joining in for singing and playing along.
Another addition this year was an amazing engineering project, the Feast Fireflies, created specially for the event by neighbor Evan Westrate. Those who stuck around until it got dark saw fireflies throughout the woods – not just any fireflies but Feast Fireflies. Evan created dozens of independently controlled, networked simulated fireflies. First they behaved just like real fireflies but as the night wore on the began doing things no real fireflies could do.
For those of you of a technical bent you might appreciate how technically ambitious this undertaking was. Each of the fireflies was part of a wireless mesh network and independent controlled from a laptop. The electronic modules were hand assembled by Evan and built from fine pitch surface mount components. These sort of components are normally soldered via automated machinery. Evan assembled them under a microscope with surgical skill.
Of all the details of this year’s Feast this is the one that I most loved. In the context of the entire event, the Feast Fireflies were a small detail but Evan dreamed this up, threw himself into it, and built a completely unique creation just for the event – how cool is that?
Here’s a photo of the guests as they began streaming up the stairs from the bridge into the Feast
Here’s the three principal co-conspirators – Seana Gaherin from Dunn Gaherin’s Restaurant, Christopher Osborn from Better Life Food, and me as we’re about to begin the setup of the whole event yesterday afternoon with the help of an army of volunteers from the neighborhood.
For the past two years, the Feast of the Falls has been my favorite day of the entire year. It’s an exhilarating event to produce. When dinner begins and you walk down the endless table and see nothing but happy, smiling, gabbing, laughing people you know this is one very special event and very special night of the year.