By Brett Yates
The town of Pittsfield typically decorates the gazebo on its village green to mark the holiday season. This year, officials aim to turn the small local tradition into a full-fledged community event.
According to Select Board Chair Ann Kuendig, the idea for a public tree lighting ceremony — with music, caroling, and a donation box for the Bethel Food Bank — came from Cynthia Bryant of the Roger Clark Memorial Library Trustees Board, which will sponsor the event through its Pittsfield Community Connections initiative.
Bryant subsequently approached Pittsfield Volunteer Fire and Rescue, which agreed to chauffeur Santa Claus to the event.
At Kuendig’s request, a Kris Kringle lookalike, who by her account has previously played the role at the nearby ski resorts, has volunteered to toss candy to children from the fire truck.
Select Board member A.J. Ruben pushed back when other officials referred to Christmas directly in discussions of the event and warned against religious iconography like crosses and mangers. “We can still have Santa, but I think we can’t call it a Christmas celebration,” he cautioned. “It’s oppressive to have the town support a Christian holiday when there are non-Christians living here.”
The board took in the objection. “I’m making a motion that we’re going to have a holiday tree,” Select Board member Joyce Stevens stressed, “and Ann, please make sure that the library board knows that it’s a holiday tree and that’s the only way they should publicize it: as a holiday tree lighting.”
All voted in favor. The tentative date for the celebration is Sunday, Dec. 5, at 5 p.m.