Season’s greetings dear friends and kind readers, and welcome back for another holiday visit here on the Front Porch where we are as busy as Christmas bees; wrapping presents, sending off cards and enjoying the season and all the excitement it brings.

What fun (and what delicious food) we had at George’s of Galilee Friday night at the Southern RI Newspapers Holiday Dinner, and what fun to celebrate with Westerly Sun colleagues and meet new folks from newspapers around the region like Narragansett Times sports reporter Colby Cotter, son of Betty and Tim Cotter. Betty was the longtime editor of the Narragansett Times.

Thanks to Jody Boucher, our publisher, for hosting such a lovely evening and bringing everyone together in such a perfect waterfront setting. George’s Head Chef Dan Mattessino of Westerly made sure everything was cooked to perfection. We caught up with Dan’s mom, Lori Mattessino-Pieniadz and his step-dad, Bobby Pieniadz, later on at Bryan and Jennifer Keilty’s jam-packed and very Christmassy Perks & Corks, where things were hopping and popping and everyone was filled with good cheer.

The Keiltys closed their popular nightspot for the evening to host a ticketed benefit for Hasbro Children’s Hospital and the local stars were out for sure. The super talented Marc Douglas Berardo performed to an enthusiastic crowd, who went wild when when he was joined by the one and only Talia Mortrude Rosso for a stunning version of “Angel from Montgomery.” What fun to visit with Talia’s husband, Brian Rosso; Dan Riordan of Gnarly Bay productions fame; Maria DeSantis; Ricky and Morgan Champlin, and Beth and Justin Cahoone.

How about this for a radio moment? I was driving home one recent evening, listening to National Public Radio (on Thursday mornings I only listen to WBLQ with Joe Cugini, of course) and had a fun surprise when I heard NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly introduce her guest, Amy Celico.

The remarkable daughter of Donna and Frank Celico of Westerly, Amy has had a fascinating career. A former China trade negotiator who served as senior director for China affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Amy, who speaks Mandarin Chinese, helped develop trade policy positions for bilateral discussions with China through the strategic economic dialogue and the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. Now a principal of Albright Stonebridge Group, the consulting firm chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, she was being interviewed on NPR about her take on the new agreement between the U.S. and China.

Coincidentally, Amy’s folks too, were in the news earlier this year, when their business, The Wine Store in Westerly, won the prestigious “Wine Store Retailer of the Year Award” for the second time! The Celicos traveled to Colorado earlier this year to accept the honor, which is awarded each year by Beverage Dynamics, a national trade publication. The Wine Store, read the citation, “is a vital part of the local business community.” Congratulations to the Celicos!

That’s it from the Front Porch for this week, dear readers, remember to stop and enjoy the beautiful lights and displays around our towns, and maybe dig out a copy of “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” to read aloud!

May your days be merry and bright and ciao bella!

Season’s greetings dear friends and kind readers, and welcome back for another holiday visit here on the Front Porch where we are as busy as Christmas bees; wrapping presents, sending off cards and enjoying the season and all the excitement it brings. What fun (and what delicious food) we had at George’s of Galilee Friday night at the Southern RI Newspapers Holiday Dinner, and what fun to celebrate with Westerly Sun colleagues and meet new folks from newspapers around the region, like Colby Cotter, son of Betty and Tim Cotter, the sports reporter for the Narragansett Times, where his mom was the longtime editor. Thanks to Jody Boucher, our publisher, for hosting such a lovely evening and bringing everyone together in such a perfect waterfront setting. George’s Head Chef Dan Mattessino of Westerly made sure everything was cooked to perfection. We caught up with Dan’s mom, Lori Mattessino-Pieniadz and his step-dad, Bobby Pieniadz, later on at Bryan and Jennifer Keilty’s jam-packed and very Christmassy Perks & Corks, where things were hopping and popping and everyone was filled with good cheer. The Keiltys closed their popular nightspot for the evening to host a ticketed benefit for Hasbro Children’s Hospital and the local stars were out for sure. The super talented Marc Douglas Berardo performed to an enthusiastic crowd, who went wild when when he was joined by the one and only Talia Mortrude Rosso for a stunning version of “Angel from Montgomery.” What fun to visit with Talia’s husband, Brian Rosso; Dan Riordan of Gnarly Bay productions fame; Maria DeSantis; Ricky and Morgan Champlin, and Beth and Justin Cahoone. How about this for a radio moment? I was driving home one recent evening, listening to National Public Radio (on Thursday mornings I only listen to WBLQ with Joe Cugini, of course) and had a fun surprise when I heard NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly introduce her guest, Amy Celico. The remarkable daughter of Donna and Frank Celico of Westerly, Amy has had a fascinating career. A former China trade negotiator who served as senior director for China affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Amy, who speaks Mandarin Chinese, helped develop trade policy positions for bilateral discussions with China through the strategic economic dialogue and the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. Now a principal of Albright Stonebridge Group, the consulting firm chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, she was being interviewed on NPR about her take on the new agreement between the U.S. and China. Coincidentally, Amy’s folks too, were in the news earlier this year, when their business, The Wine Store in Westerly, won the prestigious “Wine Store Retailer of the Year Award” for the second time! The Celicos traveled to Colorado earlier this year to accept the honor, which is awarded each year by Beverage Dynamics, a national trade publication. The Wine Store, read the citation, “is a vital part of the local business community.” Congratulations to the Celicos!That’s it from the Front Porch for this week, dear readers, remember to stop and enjoy the beautiful lights and displays around our towns, and maybe dig out a copy of “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” to read aloud! May your days be merry and bright and ciao bella!

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