HALLOWELL — Holiday festivities continued well past New Year’s Day in Hallowell as about two dozen trees were used to fuel a bonfire Saturday afternoon and Hall-Dale High School students delivered a thunderous taiko drum performance.

The event was a collaboration involving Vision Hallowell, the Hallowell Firefighters Association and the taiko drummers.

Residents brought their old Christmas trees to Granite City Park, along with a recommended $10 donation to the firefighters’ association, and the Fire Department started a bonfire as the beat of taiko drums echoed across the Kennebec River.

Deb Fahy, president of Vision Hallowell, said former President Jamie Houghton decided to start the Bonfire of the Trees benefit five years ago.

“She came up with the idea and we just ran with it,” Fahy said. “When we pulled in the taiko drummers, that made it a real event. The bonfire is one thing, but when you have those big drums going, it’s pretty cool.”

She said Hall-Dale teacher Naoto Kobayashi and his students have been involved every year, and they also play at other local events.


Fahy said the event typically raises about $200 a year for the Fire Department.

Deputy Chief Aaron Selwood of the Hallowell Fire Department said the money is used to buy equipment or help those in the area who need assistance.

This year, Selwood said, the department is raising money for a utility terrain vehicle, or a UTV, to help those who might have fallen or gotten hurt while on the city’s woodland trails.

Selwood said Fire Department is involved with other fundraising events throughout the year, including during Old Hallowell Day.

Looking ahead, he said, the department hopes to host more fundraising events, possibly including a movie night at the fire station.

Selwood said residents seem to enjoy the Bonfire of the Trees.


“It’s a good way to get rid of trees,” he said, “and (residents) like to help donate to the Fire Department and help us out.”

Resident Christine Little, who owns The River Studio, a yoga studio at 332 Water St., not far from Granite City Park, said this year was her first bringing a tree to the bonfire.

“It benefits the local Fire Department,” Little said. “It’s an opportunity to spend some time with our neighbors and community members, and it’s a nice thing to do on a winter’s night.”

Little said she was particularly excited to see the taiko drummers.

“Any opportunity to get to hear them and see them play is wonderful,” she said.

Looking ahead, Fahy and Selwood said they hope to see the event continue.

“It’s not hard to put together and it benefits the firefighters,” Fahy said. “So as long as they’re into it, we will continue.”

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