Creative community Christmas tree effort lights up hearts

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The Christmas tree lighting, a socially distanced drive-through event, took place on Tues. Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. and was proposed by Hughenden United Church Minister, Paul Allard.

The decorating and lighting of the towering scotch pine tree nearest the sidewalk in Hughenden’s Devonian Park was completed in conjunction with the Village of Hughenden. 

It takes a lot of people giving their time and working together to turn the idea of a community Christmas into a reality. 

On Thurs. Nov. 26 local firefighters came out to help United Church members to cover the Scotch pine with 600 lights. A huge star was given by a local resident, refurbished with paint and rope lighting and mounted atop the tree using a cherry picker unit whose operator donated both his equipment and his time to the effort.

Donations for the event were received from private families, community organizations, and from the Hughenden Lions Club and United Church volunteer Heather Nelson placed jars out around town for silver collection, and she also painted and distributed rock “invitations,” which she left on doorsteps around the village. 

Costumed elf Chili (Paul Allard) danced to festive tunes under the lighted tree and handed out candy bags to families driving by. 

“We intended the bags for kids only,” said another elf, “but I think we handed out around 30 so then we started sending a bag home with each family to enjoy the microwave popcorn inside.” 

The elves estimate that about 25 vehicles drove through that night and there were individual spectators there to enjoy the lights a safe distance from one another and from Santa’s jolly helpers.

“We hope to make this a yearly tradition,” said Allard, “and plan on enhancing and expanding it with further activities associated with the tree lighting.” 

Allard has already purchased 400 more lights for next year making a total of 1000 lights to decorate next year’s tree. 

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