Spirit of Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Overcomes Hurricane Damage in Connecticut Community
Posted on November 30, 2012
Story & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb
“O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – Your branches green delight us! They are green when summer days are bright, They are green when winter snow is white, O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your branches green delight us!” Lyrics from the English version of O Christmas Tree.
The lighting of what was called a ‘Charlie Brown’ Christmas Tree in Manchester, Connecticut November 29 symbolized more than the joyful spirit of the holidays. Organizers said it also represented the resilience of communities throughout the state ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Compared to many shoreline towns, Manchester sustained minimal damage from the storm a month ago. However, Sandy did hack off several feet from the once 37 foot tall spruce on the front lawn of St. James Church on Main Street where the community traditionally gathers for an annual tree-lighting ceremony.
Lacking enough time to bring in a replacement, the Downtown Manchester Special Services District, which sponsors the event, faced a dilemma. Rather than skip the tree decorating and lighting, downtown district leaders opted to celebrate the season by borrowing the concept of a sparse but heartfelt Charlie Brown Christmas Tree popularized by the beloved Peanuts character.
Thursday night community members came out to show support for the lighting of the approximate 15 foot stump of a tree, which was decorated and surrounded by depictions of various Peanuts characters previously created by a teacher and students from Bennet Academy for another town activity. When Mayor Leo Diana was joined by the principal and students from Martin Elementary School to hit the switch illuminating the tree, “ohs’ and “ahs” from the crowd made it clear the shortened height of the evergreen did not cut down on its festiveness.
The event also featured carols and other holiday tunes from the Summit Singers, the Silk City Barbershop Chorus and the Manchester Citadel Band of the Salvation Army. WTIC AM morning sportscaster Scott Gray served as master of ceremonies, and the jolly ole’ elf himself, Santa Claus, arrived on a firetruck with lights flashing and sirens blaring. “Have I been naughty or nice?” Gray asked. “Yes,” replied Santa.