Crews from Kennebunk Light & Power and Kennebunk Public Services place the holiday tree in Tibbetts Plaza last week. It will be lit virtually, at a time to be announced. Families who wish can craft an ornament for the tree and drop it off in one of several Kennebunk locations. Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNK — The majestic tree arrived at Tibbetts Plaza on Main Street last week, thanks to the diligence of crews from Kennebunk Public Services and Kennebunk Light & Power – and now, families can help decorate it.

Of course, with pandemic positivity rates continuing to climb, decorating will happen in a different way.

Families can make a decoration of their own, drop it off in one of a number of locations, and then, once all have been added to the tree, go have a look to see if they can find their own.

The idea came from June Huston, a local businesswoman who is also active in municipal committees and volunteer circles.

Crews began to get this 40 to 45 foot tall spruce tree ready to take done from its Arundel location a week ago. Destination? Tibbetts Plaza, Kennebunk, where it will be decorated for the holiday season. Tammy Wells photo

“This past year has been filled with fear and anxiety,” said Huston. “I am thankful that I have this great little community to call home and I know we are all so lucky to be shielded by much of the devastation caused by COVID. I thought that by each family being allowed to have an ornament displayed on the tree, it would represent that we are all in this together and we stand united during these uncertain times.”

A friend is developing the Kennebunk Together Facebook page. People are calling to volunteer their help – people she hasn’t met before, Huston said. And when they learned the community needed more lights to illuminate the darkness, Kennebunk Savings pledged $2,000 to buy LED lights, she said..

The tree came from a lawn in Arundel, just 5.8 miles away, planted many years ago, along with another, by Theresa Sansoucy and her late husband, John. The two spruce trees came from a nephew’s property in Cambridge, Maine.

“We got them when they were small, 40 years ago,” said Sansoucy, who said she had her husband, who died three years ago, had placed them on the property as a buffer from the traffic noise. “I didn’t think they’d grow that big.”

But the trees grew to a height of 40 to 45 feet, Sansoucy said, as she watched the action from her living room as one of the crew members carefully applied a chain saw to the tree, another eased it down with the aid of a bucket truck, while others were at the ready in case of trouble, and to help trim the branches before it was loaded onto a flatbed for its trip to Kennebunk.

“I told June I was going to get rid of (the trees),” said Sansoucy. Huston asked if she’d be interested in one of them being Kennebunk’s holiday tree, and voila, it happened.

“I’ll be happy to see the road,” a view she hasn’t seen for a while, said Sansoucy.

This big spruce tree, being taken town by crews from Kennebunk Light & Power and Kennebunk Public Services, was donated by Theresa Sansoucy of Arundel and will grace Tibbetts Plaza in Kennebunk for the holiday season. Tammy Wells photo

As for the decorations, families who want to make an ornament, buy a personalized one or adapt an existing one, making it their own, can do so, and organizers have dispensed a few bits of advice:

“December is known for freezing rain and sometimes strong winds. Dainty glass ornaments can be a hazard when flying from the tree,” organizers advised. “Ornaments made of paper and glue probably won’t survive, either. Please provide a survivable and safe ornament option.”

Folks are asked to remember the tree is big so a tiny ornament probably wouldn’t be seen – but there needs to be room for many, so ornaments should be under 6 inches by 6 inches.

Everyone who loves the Kennebunk community is welcome to take part.

“This is for our kids who are missing out on a traditional tree lighting this year, this is for the seniors who can’t see their grandkid’s trees, and for all of us that embrace positivity within our community,” organizers said.

They also pointed out that the town government has trusted volunteers to conduct the event and so are asking that folks keep within the spirit of the guidelines.

All submissions are subject to review.

The final bit of advice is for families to have fun and  enjoy looking for their  ornament on the tree with family and friends.

Ornaments may be dropped off through Dec. 11 at Kennebunk Light & Power, Huston’s Home Renovations, Cummings’ Market, Port Hardware, Kennebunk Toy Company, The Blue, Mail-It Unlimited, Duffy’s Tavern & Grill Kennebunk and Maine & Vine.

“I hope that families being able to visit the tree and have fun looking for their ornament will offset their being able to attend a tree lighting,” said Huston. A virtual lighting is planned, but a date had not been set as of  the Kennebunk Post’s early Thanksgiving deadline.

“The support has been amazing thus far,” said Huston, adding that kids visiting the tree after it was put up in Tibbetts Plaza last week were excited to hear that they could hang an ornament. “People have said that they are relieved that there’s something positive to look forward to.”

 

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