NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – Christmas Eve’s balmy weather drew hundreds of residents to Titicus Road for the arrival of Santa and the annual lighting of North Salem’s Community Christmas Tree.
The Dec. 24 tree-lighting ceremony, along with hot cider and cocoa, gingerbread cookies and the singing of carols, has been going on for nearly 90 years.
The original “tree,” constructed from chicken wire and miscellaneous fir branches, was so warmly welcomed by his neighbors that Hobart Keeler planted a live tree on his property a year later and donated the land to the town for a perpetual Christmas Eve celebration.
Every few decades a new tree had to replace the old one. The most recent, and probably the largest and most beautiful, was planted in October, thanks to the North Salem Improvement Society.
“When I was a kid, I had to wrap 400 Christmas presents,” recalled Supervisor Warren Lucas, who has been attending the tree lighting for about 55 years. “My mother was a member of the Improvement Society.”
“This event reminds me of a Dr. Seuss story, where they all hold hands and sing songs in Whoville,” said North Salem resident Rebecca Evans.
“What’s beautiful is that it’s free and everyone comes together as a community to celebrate North Salem,” said Amy Post, current president of the Improvement Society. “That’s very important, especially this year.”