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Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Roslindale Village lights up Adams Park with holiday spirits and the lighting of a holiday tree.  For anyone new to Roslindale (and we will let people decide what ‘new’ means), we wanted to provide a little background about this joyous day, so  we spoke with Tom Donahue, one of the people who has been instrumental in helping to coordinate the tree lighting for many years.

Interview by RVMS Marketing Committee Co-Chair Jocelyn Hutt
Photos by Chris Lang Photography

Can you give us a bit of history about the Tree Lighting? Has it always been in Adams Park? How many years has it been happening?

The Tree Lighting was the first major event that Roslindale Village Main Street inaugurated right after our inception in 1985. This will be our 31st year. It has always been held at Adams Park. However, in the early years the event was held on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. In the mid-1990's,we moved the event to the Saturday after Thanksgiving due to the fact that Hyde Park started holding their lighting on Sunday and we could not do both on the same day. Actually, it works out well for Roslindale Village Saturday because the local businesses are open and are participating in Small Business  Saturday, which is held on the same day. Roslindale Village is the first of the Citywide neighborhood tree lightings each year.

Has there ever been a year where the weather prohibited the lighting from happening?

 There has been only one year when it started to rain heavily in the middle of the event. But fortunately, the Roslindale Congregational Church opened their doors for us and we moved Santa, the band, and the refreshments indoors for the rest of the program.  The crowds followed and it worked out perfectly. We are still waiting for our first snow-covered Tree Lighting, as it is a bit too early in the season.

Who are some of the many people and which businesses work so tirelessly to make this happen every year?

 The beautiful lighted decorations you see on the poles around the Village and in Adams Park were initially purchased through the proceeds from our first RVMS "Taste Of Roslindale" events. RVMS continues to supervise the installation of the decorations each year through our own budget. Initially, the Local 103 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) generously donated their time to wire all of the poles in the Village and Adams Park to provide power for the lighted decorations.  Without their hard work we would not have been able to do it.  Currently, Cindy Scheff of Earthly Arts has a private team wire the poles.

The Tree and lights for the tree are provided by the City of Boston Public Works Department. The City's Department of Tourism, Sports, and Entertainment provides the stage, sound system, candy canes, and funds the cost of the brass ensemble. Diane’s Bakery donates holiday cookies and treats and the Boston Lodge of Elks #10 generously donates the hot chocolate. The Village Market contributes towards printing costs of the Holiday Wander brochure, and Dunkin Donuts supplies the hot coffee. There will be ornament making for children with Kids Art Express.

Does the Mayor always do the lighting?

YES - although sometimes there are special guests and dignitaries to assist in the ceremonial flipping of the switch to turn the lights on the tree.

What is the schedule? Are there carolers or other live music? Does Santa always show up?

The ceremony starts at 3:00pm sharp on on Saturday, November 28th.

Here is the schedule (of course we try not to hold Santa to an exact time – he’s busy):

2:45       Musical selections from the Christopher Mish Quintet begin the event and the “Reindog” contestants line up in front of stage and a winner is chosen. The “Reindog” contest is sponsored by Pet Cabaret.

3:00       Welcome and greetings from RVMS Masters of Ceremonies  - this year our own Christina DiLisio will be our MC!

Right before Santa (and our Mayor) shows up there will be a brief performance by the Tony Williams Dance Center from the Urban Nutcracker.

3:15       Mayor Walsh and Santa arrive on a Fire Truck from the Boston Fire Department!

3:25     The Mayor flips the switch and lights the tree!

3:30     Musical selections from the Sacred Heart Choir

3:45     Making Music Matters performs

4:00    Photos with Santa (on-going)

What else should we know about the event??

 The purpose of this event is to promote Roslindale Village and the local businesses, bring
the community together in a traditional fun event and encourage people to shop locally
during this holiday season.  It is also an opportunity to join in with the nationwide
Small Business Saturday promotions and publicize our Holiday Wander.   This is the mission
of Roslindale Village Main Street.

Thank you so much Tom.  This is a true community event; many hands making light and lighted work!

Learn more about what's going on in Roslindale Village this holiday season.