Community Gathers for Revived Tree Lighting Ceremony

SANDOWN – Neither the cold weather nor the freezing rain stopped Sandown residents from getting together Friday, Dec. 6, for a ceremonial tree lighting at Town Hall.
It was the first official tree lighting in years, and something its organizers put together quickly this season to spread some holiday cheer and to hopefully start a new tradition.

And residents apparently thought it was a great idea too, as turnout was much larger than expected. Adults and kids alike filled the downstairs of the Town Hall prior to the lighting and then filled the side lawn, where the trees were lit, to capacity.
Lead organizers Lynne Blaisdell and Paula Gulla of the selectmen’s office were pleased with the turnout, saying they didn’t expect the event to be so well attended.
“We had fun,” said Gulla about the work that went into the event. “It all gelled. And we’re thrilled with the turnout.”
The two, with the help of other volunteers and the Lions Club, decided only a couple weeks earlier to put a tree lighting together. While various town groups had previously lit the Train Depot Museum and invited the town to congregate, that tradition had fallen off for several years.
But Blaisdell and Gulla wanted to do something good for their neighbors, and thus pulled the resources together. The Lions Club donated $100 worth of lights for the event and the selectmen wholeheartedly approved of the venture.
Gulla and Blaisdell got hot chocolate, coffee and treats together, decorated the downstairs of the town hall with lights and a bright white Giving Tree, and even corralled Santa Claus to come by to talk with the kids. Santa sat for a minute or two with a host of kids and his helper – Gulla in reindeer antlers – sent them away with candy canes.
All the selectmen attended, though Terry Treanor did come in disguise.
Everyone congregated for a while in the building before heading out for an official countdown and for the lights to start shining. Kids played with each other and adults visited and the atmosphere was all around the kind you’d expect in a small town this time of year.
Outside, Blaisdell thanked everyone for helping make the event a reality, especially Gulla, whom she credited with the idea. Partly in light of significant increases to tax bills this year and the resulting extra stress for many, Gulla said it would be nice to bring a smile to everyone’s faces with a small seasonal event.
Once the lights were lit, the kids gathered around and sang a few holiday favorites, supported by the adults who surrounded them. Gulla passed out the words for all the songs to everyone who wanted them.
After the singing concluded, most headed back inside for more hot chocolate and further visiting with Santa.

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