Spirits, chopper soar during Fall Festival

Katy Chiapperini of Mystic and her son Milo Chiapperini, 2, left, sit with her son Wyatt Chiapperini, 1, during the Groton Fall Festival held at Poquonnock Plains Park Saturday. In the background are an Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and tents with business displays.

Groton — It’s not every day that a Blackhawk helicopter lands on the field at Poquonnock Plains Park, but on Saturday, hundreds of people took advantage of its presence and explored the inside of the Army’s tactical transport helicopter.

Weighing more than 20,000 pounds, the Army National Guard aircraft was hard to ignore, but as part of Groton’s seventh annual Fall Festival, it was just one of many attractions throughout the day.

“I think the most interesting thing about the helicopter is up front, where all the gadgets are,” Conor Meenan, 9, said.

His younger brother, Logan, estimated that there are about “a million” control buttons up front. He and Conor, of Mystic, then moved to the back portion of the Blackhawk and strapped themselves into two of 11 seats.

“I don’t think I could fly this. It would be really hard to memorize every button,” Logan, 6, said.

The festival, with more than 130 exhibits, was the only place in town Saturday where visitors could get a massage, make sand art, visit a small farmers market, search for the perfect pumpkin and receive tips and tricks from a Frisbee champion.

Wood-fired pizzas, fried dough and hot dogs were also popular lunchtime choices.

In its seventh year, the festival has grown in size largely because local organizations and businesses realize the potential it has to reach large amounts of people. The fall festival is also the main fundraiser for the annual Holiday Lights Parade, sponsored by the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce’s Groton Business Association.

At the Groton Animal Foundation booth, Ginger the cat was the star Saturday afternoon as she lounged about on a bright pink cat bed.

Most people were instantly drawn to her size. She weighed about 25 to 30 pounds.

“That’s a huge cat,” one man said, glancing over at her.

“She belonged to a little old lady, and Ginger got too much food and didn’t get much exercise. Her owner couldn’t care for her properly,” Animal Control Officer Donna Duso said.

She said Ginger needed a better diet and should be updated on her shots, but that didn’t stop North Stonington resident Amanda Hill from adopting her on the spot.

Hill said that her son Kaygan’s approval of Ginger solidified her decision to adopt her.

“We were looking for a cat with a personality like hers, just very relaxed and good with kids,” Hill said. “I didn’t expect to get a cat today.”



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