The Observation Deck: Paintscaping The Town -- Something Old, Something New

The calendar on my phone lit up with the date July 30. Panic set in.

I had two weeks until my boys left for their sophomore year of college and between our harried schedules and some unforeseen circumstances our summer bucket list had officially kicked the bucket.

After a flurry of group text messages and some finagling, we found an agreeable date. Sunday, August 3, we would rendezvous for a family outing. I pulled out my Sandwich 375 schedule and started combing it for a memorable event.

Not wanting to waste our time on something that wouldn’t be fun for all, my husband I ventured out to the Wing Fling early Sunday to do a little reconnaissance. Piles of colorful LEGOs greeted us as we entered the lobby of the Wing School. Lively music from bygone eras bellowed from the cafeteria. The halls and gymnasium of the Henry T. had a carnival-like atmosphere with face painting, crafts and bouncy inflatable structures. Outside, as the weather cleared, lines of people waited for lunch at food trucks and a small train ride chugged around the parking lot. It was obvious that this event was going to be a highlight of the summer for younger families.


As we were leaving, a volunteer handed me a brochure for Paintscaping, saying, “I went last night. An F-15 flies through a fishbowl—it’s awesome!” I thought it sounded ridiculous, which was perfect for us. Anyone who has seen young adult programming knows that ridiculous sells to that demographic.

The village was surprisingly busy as was the Dan’l Webster Inn & Spa. Fortunately, my husband had the forethought to make a reservation.  We were hoping to make the 8:30 Paintscaping showing but quickly found out the rest of the restaurant patrons had the same plan. We took our time with dinner and then gathered in front of the First Church at  10 minutes till 9. Some people had stayed behind from the previous show and many more joined us.

The crowd was multigenerational.  There were locals and visitors alike. The music over the loudspeaker was a mix of contemporary hits. Not something we were accustomed to at events in the village. It was evident that this was something new and different.

The Paintscaping started and the crowd quieted. The stately architecture of the church was illuminated, animated and then transformed into the backdrop for a seven-minute highlight reel for the town of Sandwich. My sons reached for their phones, not to text or check social media but to take photos and video. One nudged my husband to do the same.

When the presentation ended, there were cheers and catcalls and from a tween in the crowd I heard, “Wow, that was so awesome, it was ridiculous!” I had to agree. Here in the oldest town on Cape Cod, against the façade of one the most iconic structures in the village, an innovative technology had entertained, educated and enthralled.

As we walked back to the car, the conversation turned from the film itself to the subject of the film. We reminisced about the more traditional events we had enjoyed over the years in the village. As we stopped to look at the landscaping in front of the Dan’l Webster, everyone agreed that the downtown was beautiful at night. “Why don’t we come down here more often at night?” one of the boys asked. “The sidewalks roll up in the village after 8:00,” my husband replied.

But they didn’t this first weekend in August 2014. Maybe the organizers of this event are on to something. Paintscaping was the perfect blend of nostalgia, humor, excitement and technology and it brought people of all ages to the village on a summer evening. And while we went downtown for something new, we left with an even greater appreciation for tradition and that which is old.

Ms. Caristi is a small-business owner and a former member of the Sandwich High School PTSA and school council. She is now adjusting to life as an empty nester with her husband, Jason, in East Sandwich.


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