Sunday, November 25, 2007

Monmouth County tree lighting ceremonmy

Tree lighting ceremony is Monday, Nov. 26

Oh Christmas Tree, how lovely are your branches

30-foot-tall Douglas fir is donated to county for holiday display

FREEHOLD – A magnificent Douglas fir donated by an Upper Freehold Township farm will serve as Monmouth County’s Christmas tree this year.

The tree, which stand 30 feet tall, rolled into downtown Freehold on Tuesday aboard a flatbed truck and stands in front of the Hall of Records, East Main Street. It is being decorated in preparation of Monday’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, sponsored by the Freehold Center Partnership.

The tree was discovered on a 10-acre site on Route 539 owned by High Ridge Farms directly across from the Monmouth County Highway Department’s District 7 headquarters. County Shade Tree employee John O’Connor had spotted a group of tall evergreens in that area and inquired with the owner about the possibility of donating one for a holiday display.

“They gave me a couple of choices and we picked the Douglas fir,” O’Connor said. County workers cut the tree down on Tuesday and brought to Freehold that afternoon, where the trunk was trimmed with a chain saw in order to fit it into the county’s tree stand.

High Ridge Farms owns a total of 1,100 acres of White pine, Serbian Spruce, Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce, Colorado Spruce and Montgomery Spruce, to name a few. The owners were happy to be part of the county’s holiday celebration, said Dawn Matyi, a farm employee.

“We thought we would do something nice for the county,” Matyi said. “It’s nice to give back to the community.”

The annual tree lighting will take place at 5 p.m. outside the Hall of Records. According to Jayne Carr, executive director of the Freehold Center Partnership, the event is a favorite of the community and has drawn as many as 500 people in past years.

In addition to the display of lights, attendees will hear the Freehold Township High School Brass Band and the Saint Rose Bell Choir. The music, together with the background of historic buildings that line Main Street, set the stage for a picture postcard start to the holiday season.

Dignitaries and elected officials from Freehold and Monmouth County are expected to attend. The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders will participate in the tree lighting ceremony, pulling the switch and illuminating the tree.

In addition to the tree, the Freehold Center Partnership will unveil its new and updated lighting decorations around town. There are new banner poles in the downtown area as well as new snowflake decorations on display to enhance the winter setting in the borough.

A special guest of honor, Santa Claus, will be riding a fire truck through town before stopping at the Hall of Records to sit and chat with the youngsters in attendance.

Throughout December, Freehold Center Partnership has a number of other special events planned. In addition to the Christmas Tree Lightning program, a Menorah Lighting Program will be held Dec. 6; the Freehold Comcast Holiday Concert is Dec. 7; Santa’s Train is on Dec. 8; breakfast with Santa is Dec. 18, and a caroling hayride is Dec. 21.

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