The recently named rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, the Rev. Robert Ross, took charge of Weston’s hottest annual event. On Saturday, Jan. 5, Rev. Ross simultaneously attended and managed his very first Epiphany Christmas tree charity bonfire.
In addition to producing a great deal of heat and sky-brightening light, the event also generated contributions of $2,541, all of which was turned over to Dawn Egan, chairman of the Weston Warm-Up Fund.
In turn, the fund will apply the money to help heat the homes of needy Weston households, a tradition going back to the early 1980s.
In accepting the collection of checks, Ms. Egan thanked Rev. Ross, the church and its members for the years of support given to the fund.
Every year, church volunteers with pickup trucks collect trees from households throughout Weston and bring them back to the field next to the church where, promptly at 6 p.m., members of Weston’s volunteer fire department stack the trees, ignite them and control the blaze until every tree and wreath has been consumed. Then, they rake the area and hose down any sections with glowing embers.
This year, some 14 members of the fire department were on hand under the direction of Chief John Pokorny and Lt. John Braden. In addition to Weston residents who donate $30 each to have their trees picked up, for Westonites willing to bring their trees themselves, the suggested donation is reduced to $20; some residents have been known to ignore the suggested donations and increase their contributions.
Following the bonfire, all of the 150 or more spectators as well as the fire department members were invited to enjoy free chili, hot dogs, cookies and cakes, soft drinks and coffee in the parish house.
As Rev. Ross observed and learned, “The entire event, from start to finish, is a remarkable demonstration of community spirit and the town’s natural inclination to contribute time, energy, and money to helping neighbors in need.”
Already, he is talking about plans to make next year’s bonfire bigger, better and an even more entertaining winter event.