CHATHAM – Does a Christmas tree have to be a tree?
Not if it's festive enough.
The Chatham Merchants Association and Chamber of Commerce is assembling a “buoy tree” to bring the holiday spirit back to the Sears Park triangle.
For many years the small downtown park hosted the town Christmas tree, a large evergreen donated by a resident annually and festively decorated by the park department. It was the focus of the merchants' annual Christmas by the Sea launch, with Santa leading a procession downtown Main Street, after which a spirited countdown would lead to the tree's lighting.
But for the past several years, the town tree lighting has been held down the road in Kate Gould Park, where a live tree serves as the annual town tree.
“There's been something missing in Sears Park since that happened,” said Jenn Allard, who coordinates the organizations' holiday celebrations.
To fill that void, a tree made up of lobster pots and buoys, to reflect the town's maritime connection, will be erected in the park, lit with white lights, she said.
“It's something that we hope can be a new tradition for Chatham,” she told the park and recreation commission last week.
Commissioners approved the idea. “It definitely speaks to the heritage of Chatham,” said David Eldredge.
While Christmas by the Sea and the annual stroll won't be held this year, there will be a number of holiday events in town. The town tree will be lit, with attendance virtual, next Friday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m. Watch on Channel 18 and the town's website. On Dec. 12, Santa will be safely ensconced in a giant snow globe at the community center for “Selfies With Santa.” The 10 a.m. to noon event is free, but registration is required at www.chathamchristmasbythesea.com.
Local shops will also be hosting “The 12 Days of Christmas, 12 Days of Chatham Giveaways" beginning Sunday, Dec. 13. Chippy the Chatham Elf will visit different businesses in town and give away a gift card in each businesses. Make a purchase anytime between Dec. 1 and 24 and be entered into a drawing to win. The more purchases you make, the more chances you have to win.
The recreation department is also sponsoring the “12 Days of Holiday Cheer” photo scavenger hunt. The free family event runs through Dec. 19 at 3 p.m. Participants travel around town and take 12 specific photos with household members (they must be in each photo), and submit the pictures to Chatham Rec on Facebook.
Holiday scavenger hunt photo items are: a lit snowman; a lobster pot tree; Santa; Eldredge Public Library tree; Kate Gold Park tree or lights; a landmark or local storefront; Chatham Beach Chair Company; a beach; Chatham Police or Fire Department; residential house lights; reason for the season (church, Star of David, menorah, or other creative idea); and a festive activity such as decorating, shopping, donating or celebrating.
If you’re just in the mood for cruising for Christmas lights, check out the first annual Chatham Holiday Lights Driving Tour. The perfect socially distant, COVID safe way to get a little holiday spirit. Look for the map published at https://www.facebook.com/events/472559790381175, and check out the displays through New Year’s Day.