Inbox [Dec. 13]: News and notes from Worcester Common Oval, People’s United Bank and UMass Memorial Health Care

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Worcester Common Oval opens for public ice skating

The Worcester Common Oval public ice-skating rink has opened for the season. The Oval has piped-in music, skate rentals, concessions, holiday lights and more, making it a fun and affordable family-friendly activity.

New this year is the WOOville Winter Wonderland, a series of wooden sheds set up on the Worcester Common that will host pop-up shops every weekend throughout the skating season and feature local food and craft vendors. Kids can have their picture taken with Santa for free every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. through Christmas.

Worcester Weekly: stART at the Station, two strolls, ‘Wonderful Life’ + more, Dec. 3-9

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too.

Sunday, Dec. 3 — stART at the Station, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Grand Hall and Concourse, Union Station, Washington Square  This is the stop to get gift shopping stARTed and your holidays on track. Some 135 local artisans will be on hand with items that are beautiful, unusual, useful or whimsical. There will be a stART Lounge, too, with a lineup of local performers, offering a break from the crafts and/or crowds. Organizers promise wider aisles this year, but trust us, this thing is chaotic — in a merry sort of way.

Admission is free; early entry from 9 to 11 a.m. costs $10, which will support stART and could get you first dibs on some of the delights. Parking is $1 at the Union Station Garage at 225 Franklin St.

Inbox [Dec. 3-9]: News and notes from WCAC, YWCA, Worcester Center for Crafts, Straight Ahead Ministries and Worcester Public Library

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Chick-fil-A Foundation awards $50K grant to Straight Ahead Ministries

Straight Ahead Ministries, a local character-development program for juvenile offenders, has been named the recipient of a $50,000 grant through The Chick-fil-A Foundation’s fourth annual True Inspiration Awards. The awards honor organizations across the country that are working hard to make a lasting difference in the lives of children and youth in their communities.

Straight Ahead Ministries aims to provide ongoing support and resources for juvenile offenders through its faith-based programming. This intensive program includes job-readiness training, educational support and service opportunities. By connecting with youth during their sentence and continuing after their release, Straight Ahead Ministries helps adolescents become self-sufficient, productive members of their communities.

Sina-cism: Yes, Thanksgiving is a religious holiday

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

If you’re even a bit like me, you’ve spent much of this weekend with family and friends, throwing gastronomic caution to the November winds, conveniently ignoring calorie counts, enjoying some concussion-filled football games, and giving thanks to God, capitalism and farmers for making it all possible.

To all such I say, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Or perhaps you’re worrying about your carbon footprint, enjoying a tasteless turkey alternative, denigrating the current occupant of the White House, gritting your teeth at the presence of any conservatives who might happen to be seated around your dinner table, and trying to decide exactly who or what is responsible for the dubious blessings of your calorie-free desserts and non-alcoholic beer.

To all such I ask, “Have you considered a new holiday?”

Editorial: A toy that’s too real

Better laws, and better sense by the public, should be preventing what almost happened in Spencer last week.

A toy gun could have caused a shooting from a real one during a routine traffic stop.

Tuesday night, officers pulled over a car on Meadow Road in Spencer for speeding, according to a Facebook post by the Spencer Police Department. “The rear seat passenger of the vehicle was reaching for the floor as the officer approached,” the post reads. “It was obvious that the occupants had smoked marijuana from the strong odor that came from the interior.”

The officer noticed what looked like a holster for a firearm on the floor of the vehicle, and ordered all three occupants to step out.

Worcester Weekly: Festival of Crafts, holiday concerts + more, Nov. 26-Dec. 2

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too.

Sunday, Nov. 26 — 35th annual Holiday Festival of Crafts, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Worcester Center for Crafts, 25 Sagamore Road  Still nursing that shiner from your unsuccessful Wal-Mart tussle for the last available Nintendo Switch on Black Friday? Soothe those wounds on Sunday, which marks the end of a three-day run for this “buy local” Worcester tradition that features the handmade goods of more than 60 artisans from across New England.

Worcester Weekly: Worcester City Tournament, Social Upheaval + more, Nov. 12-18

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too.

Tuesday, Nov. 14 — Worcester Railers vs. Brampton Beast, 10:05 a.m., DCU Center, 50 Foster St.  Consider this a rivalry game, Railers fans — the Beast are the ECHL affiliate of the hated Montreal Canadiens. And while the new hometown team is aligned with the NHL’s New York Islanders, a) they don’t like the Canadiens much either (who does, eh?) and b) this is still Bruins country. So sharpen the elbows and bring on the intensity for this one.

Railers goalie Mitch Gillam, 25 — and Canadian, but not a Canadien — who started the last three seasons at Cornell University, is among the ECHL leaders in goals against average (first, at 2.00, after Friday’s games) and save percentage (eighth, .929).

Wagner: On Thoreau in Central Massachusetts

Thoreau never married and remained childless. And he continued to walk and lecture in Central Massachusetts, working toward the understanding that “Life consists with wildness. The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him.” Worcester would be the city in which he lectured most often. Mark Wagner, director of the Binienda Center for Civic Engagement at Worcester State, takes a walk on the wild side.

Worcester Weekly: Railers, Something’s Brewing + more, Oct. 29-Nov. 6

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too.

Tuesday, Oct. 31 — Worcester Railers vs. Toledo Walleye, 7:05 p.m., DCU Center, 50 Foster St.  With 17 days between home games for the fledgling franchise, the city’s hungry-for-hockey fan base has had plenty of time to generate anticipation and excitement for this one. And the DCU Center, we can hope, has had ample time to address the handful of issues that emerged during game one (namely the long concession lines, cash-only vendors and lack of Wi-Fi).

The Railers had a win, loss and overtime loss — not to mention an epic brawl — on their four-game road trip before Saturday’s late game in Utah. Patrick McNally, a left-shot D with AHL experience, leads the team in points (3-2–5). The Walleye were 2-2-1 with 14 goals in five games. Tickets range from $15 to $30.