A History of the Holiday Extravaganza

Poster for the Sixth Annual Children's Holiday Extravaganza featuring an image from 2019's Extravaganza of children performing together in a dance on stage.

Berkshire Theatre Group’s Sixth Annual Children’s Holiday Extravaganza celebration at The Colonial Theatre will be a hybrid model on November 29. Over the past few years, the Holiday Extravaganza has become a beloved holiday tradition in Pittsfield. While this year will be unique in many ways, the spirit of the event remains the same.

In 2015, Kathy Amuso, chairperson of the event, first came to Kate Maguire, Artistic Director and CEO, with the idea to do an event for the community that was reminiscent of the holiday parties GE used to throw where every child left with a gift. The Colonial Theatre seemed the perfect venue for the event, and so the first Holiday Extravaganza was born. Allison Rachele Bayles, Administrative Director of Education, says, “The event has captured the spirit of being a fun carefree day for families to enjoy without having to worry about expense and sets a positive tone for the kick off of the holiday season.” The first year, there were live performances, small gifts for the children, and a bike raffle. Subsequent years have seen the event evolve to encompass more performances, food offerings, candy giveaways, and even a visit from Santa.

Rows of singers stand on stage singing. Behind them is a projection that reads Happy Holidays and has bows and holly around the words. There is a conductor down stage right directing the song.

Performance from the 2016 Children’s Holiday Extravaganza. Photo by Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware.

Each year, the Holiday Extravaganza grows to meet the needs of the community and continues to provide a free holiday event for families to look forward to. It also allows a chance for individuals and businesses to volunteer and give back. The Sixth Annual Children’s Holiday Extravaganza is sponsored by Highland Street Foundation and Mill Town Capital, Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Blue Q with additional support by Target, Pittsfield Police Department, Mary Pope and Will Osborne and McDonald’s. “Everyone who volunteers has seen the impact this day has on children and families who might otherwise not be able to experience such a wide reaching experience of holiday generosity and truly good cheer,” states Kate Maguire.

The first year of the event, over 520 people attended and in 2019 that number had grown to over 700. This year’s event will look different, but will still reach families throughout Berkshire County. Recognizing the importance of this event to the community Kate Maguire states, “In a year when families are more challenged both financially and structurally more than ever, we knew Extravaganza needed to happen.” The Sixth Annual Children’s Holiday Extravaganza celebration at The Colonial Theatre will be a hybrid model in order to reach more people than ever before from the safety and comfort of their homes.

Kate Maguire sits on a stool on stage with a book open in her lap and a microphone. She is reading to a large group of children in front of her, also on stage.

Kate Maguire reading a story at the 2018 Children’s Holiday Extravaganza. Photo by Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware.

Creating a hybrid event was Kate Maguire’s idea, “Our staff knew we needed a new model and so we put our heads together and made a new plan to respond to developing Holiday Extravaganza 2020. Though the medium of television is new to us, we are grateful to PCTV for airing our entertainment and celebration. We look forward to spreading some cheer and distributing goodies in the spirit of the season!” The day-long event will feature entertainment, raffles and gift bag giveaways to the first 400 reservations. Bag assembly and distribution will follow strict safety guidelines. The entertainment and raffles will start at 1pm on Sunday, and be featured on Access Pittsfield, PCTV Select, via October Facebook Live, or via YouTube. Raffle prize winners will be announced at the end of the televised performance. All raffle winners will be contacted about pick up of their items. Raffle prizes include bikes, helmets, gift cards and more.

This event would not be possible without the support of individuals and businesses throughout the Berkshires. If you are interested in learning more about ways to support and contribute to Berkshire Theatre Group, please contact the Donor Relations Team at (413) 448-8084 x 102 or visit www.berkshiretheatregroup.org/support.

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