Pittsfield Tree Lighting Returns In-Person
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Ho, ho, ho! The city's annual tree lighting ceremony will be in person for the first time in two years on Dec. 2.
It will include musical performances, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Clause on a firetruck, and of course — holiday cheer.
"Really excited about bringing that back in person because that's one of my favorite events of the year," Recreation & Special Events Coordinator Becky Manship told the Parks Commission on Tuesday.
She reported that Jack, Rita, and Justine Laviolette donated a tree to the city in memory of George Laviolette. It was installed in Park Square on Monday morning.
The white spruce is 25 feet tall and 18 feet wide. It is about 19 years old.
The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. with some short speeches and a performance from the Berkshire Hills Chorus once the tree is lit. Santa and Mrs. Claus will then arrive to ring in the holiday season.
The Taconic High School chorus will perform for about 15 minutes before it begins.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an in-person ceremony was not able to happen in 2020 and 2021. Last year, the city teamed up with Pittsfield Community Television for a virtual tree lighting, which included remote performances and a visit from the Clauses.
The tree lighting will be a part of Downtown Pittsfield Inc's "Festive Frolick," which includes a number of holiday events on December 2 and 3 for a variety of ages.
During the commission meeting, it was also reported that the city is looking to plant a permanent holiday tree as part of a larger project to address the tree declining health of the park's canopy.
"Over the past number of years we've seen a real decline in the health of the trees on Park Square and it's been kind of concerning to myself and park maintenance staff and others from the community who have pointed it out over the past few years," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath explained.
"So the Public Services Division has allocated some money for the development of a tree planting plan or a whole review of the tree canopy at Park Square."
A professional arborist surveyed the trees last week and delivered a report that outlines the inventory, the trees' health, and some recommendations on how to care for them. Within the recommendations are some removals and possible plantings, which include a permanent holiday tree.
Manship and the commission were excited to hear this.
Berkshire Design Group has been hired to lead the effort on developing a master plan for the park's trees. It will likely be before the panel next month.
"We really want to make certain that the commission and others who are really interested in Park Square have an opportunity to review this," McGrath said.
"Because Park Square really is the iconic heartbeat of our downtown and it's it's time for us to really take a look at what's happening there and plan for the future."
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