The Christmas tree lighting, a socially distanced drive-through event, took place on Tuesday, December 1st at 7:00 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 Thursday, November 26th 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.
Here’s Hughenden United Church minister, Paul Allard, working for Santa as Chili the elf and handing out treat bags to families driving past the towering Scotch Pine at the end of Hughenden’s main street.
In support of this tree lighting that took place in the park situated at the base of main street (McKenzie Avenue) in Hughenden, donations were received from private families, community organizations, and from the Hughenden Lions Club. To raise other funds, 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. The event was additionally advertised on Facebook and United Church board member Sandra Johnson told me, “We put up posters in the three communities of Amisk, Czar, and Hughenden.”
Socially distanced drive-through fun in Hughenden on Tuesday, December 1st. The Community Christmas Tree was lighted up at 7:00 p.m.
Costumed elf Chili (Paul Allard) danced to festive tunes under the lighted tree and handed out candy bags to families driving by in their vehicles. Another elf in attendance shared with this writer, “We intended the bags for kids only, 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. Chili the elf looks forward to lighting the Community Christmas Tree again in years to come. Minister Paul Allard told me, “We hope to make this a yearly tradition, and plan on enhancing and expanding it with further activities associated with the tree lighting.”
Sandra Johnson, Hughenden United Church Board member, and Paul Allard, volunteering to brighten up a December night in the village.
Paul has already purchased a 400 more lights for next year making a total of 1000 lights to decorate next year’s tree. In this darkest time of the year and during the final month of one of the darkest years humanity has experienced in a long while, it’s heartwarming to see a village tree lighted up as the result of community cooperation and generosity.