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Weston Christmas tree bonfire set for Jan. 5

The Rev. Rob Ross and his wife, Sarah. —Bob Gardner photo

For the sixth consecutive year since Emmanuel Episcopal Church resumed its traditional Christmas tree bonfire, trees will be set ablaze at 6 p.m. sharp on Saturday, Jan. 5, in the field nearest the church’s parish hall on Lyons Plain Road.

It will also mark the first charitable Epiphany Christmas tree bonfire witnessed, organized and directed by the new church rector, the Rev. Rob Ross, who joined Emmanuel in August.

What started as a church observation of Epiphany some 200 years ago is now an annual fund-raising event held exclusively for the benefit of the Weston Warm-Up Fund, whose beneficiaries are needy Weston residents and families who for reasons of health, age and financial condition need help keeping their homes warm in winter.

With home heating oil prices skirting $4 a gallon and reduced state aid available, the bonfire will provide much-needed warmth long after the embers have gone out.

The bonfire also warms the faces and hearts of the 150 or more observers — children and adults — who will attend the night-brightening fire that’s set, controlled and extinguished by members of the Weston Volunteer Fire Department, under Chief John Pokorny.

The firefighters stack the trees and wreaths, start the bonfire and control the blaze until all the trees have been consumed. When the fire is over, the ground is raked and hosed down and the firefighters join visiting Westonites in the parish hall for free coffee and refreshments.

The traditional annual bonfire was stopped during World War II when town air raid wardens prohibited open fires at night, The idea to revive it came from the former rector, the Rev. David Feyrer, in 2006.

By connecting the bonfire with the quarter of a century of work done by the Warm-Up Fund, he made Christmas tree disposal a significant source of revenue to the Warm-Up Fund. He also made the bonfire a fun event in the middle of winter by opening it to the public.

Checks for the fully tax-deductible donation may be made out to the Weston Warm-Up Fund and given to the church volunteer drivers when they pick up trees on Saturday, Jan. 5. For residents preferring to drop off their tree, the suggested donation is $20, with the only stipulation being that trees and wreaths be delivered by 5 p.m.

For more information or to schedule a tree pickup, call 203-227-8565 or email office@emmanuelweston.org.

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