Shuttle bus to service Milford Christmas event

MILFORD – Amid the traditional holiday fare, this Saturday’s old-fashioned Christmas on the Oval will feature something unusual for Milford’s downtown – a shuttle bus.

“We’ll see how it goes, and if it’s something that’s popular we might try it again,” said Jessica Hejtmanek, director of the downtown group DO-IT.

The free bus will circulate through the Oval and between the Community House on Union Street and St. Patrick’s Church on Amherst Road from 8:15 a.m. until roughly 4 p.m. It will be there to take people among the eight churches and public buildings where local groups will be holding Christmas craft fairs, as well as to dozens of local stores that will also be decked out for the holidays.

At first glance, a shuttle bus might not seem necessary, since the total distance involved is only about a mile. But it could be welcome to those carrying packages and maneuvering among the Oval’s traffic, said Hejtmanek.

“I think it will be useful, especially if the weather’s not that great, and for people who can’t get around easily,” she said.

Free parking will be available at the Bales and Jacques schools on Elm Street, just west of the Oval, where the shuttle bus will start its runs.

“We certainly hope people walk around and window shop, but this will be an extra option for people,” said Hejtmanek.

The Holiday Crafts Fair has become a popular event in town, coordinating a number of independent holiday fairs to increase the appeal.

This year’s event is being combined with an open house for businesses, and an enlarged holiday celebration.

That celebration will include public caroling at 4:30 p.m. – complete with lyric sheets, for those who can’t remember the names of the eight other reindeer – and a lighting of the Christmas tree at 5 p.m.

The idea of a shuttle bus has been mentioned in the past for large, downtown events, such as the Pumpkin Festival and the now-defunct Keepers of the Lore gathering. It became possible this year, said Hejtmanek, by using a bus from the Middle School enrichment program, which is holding a craft fair at the Town Hall.

“I think it’ll be interesting,” she said. “I’ll be curious to see how people use it, to see what the response is. I think this is something that could be more common.”

Ironically, Milford lost its only regular bus service earlier this year, when CityBus cancelled a regular run between Nashua and the Oval due to high cost.