It's just starting to feel like autumn, but members of the Needham Business Association are already looking ahead to the next season—and the holidays.
Needham's will be held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, on Nov. 26, starting with the lighting of the tree at near the Needham Heights train station at 5:15 p.m. and continuing with the tree lighting at the at 5:30 p.m., followed by music and other activities on the common.
"Everybody participates," said Louise Condon, an NBA board member who has chaired the event for many years. "People in Needham come out regardless of what their faith is."
Needham's blue tree got its start in 1954, when a member of the Board of Trade (a precursor to the Needham Business Association) and the Needham Rotary was inspired by a blue tree he saw in Newton and proposed that Needham have its own blue tree, according to information provided by Condon.
The town's first lighting was held on Dec. 3, 1954, with 4,000 blue bulbs hung on a large maple tree in front of . The tradition continues today with two trees covered entirely in blue bulbs.
This year, the event committee is hoping to light both trees using longer-lasting LED bulbs, Condon said.
To raise funds for this annual event, the group has held various sales over the years—most recently selling packages of holiday greeting cards bearing an image of the Blue Tree Lighting.
This year, they are selling sweatshirts that read, "Needham for the holidays," over a graphic representing the tree lighting (complete with blue lights) and, underneath the image, "Needham, Massachusetts … Established 1711."
The sweatshirts come in navy blue and gray and are available in a range of sizes (child small-large and adult small-XL) for $20 each. They can be purchased during regular business hours at , 399 Chestnut St.
Details of the holiday event are still being worked out—such as who exactly will throw the switch to light the blue trees—but much remains the same. The festivities will get underway around 5:30 p.m. on the Town Common and will include a choral performance, the tree lighting and a visit from Santa Claus, who will arrive on a firetruck.
"We hope this year there will be several sales in stores and specials in restaurants before the festivities," Condon said.
The Board of Selectmen has again approved free parking in the downtown area from Saturday, Nov. 26 through Dec. 31 in an effort to encourage residents to take advantage of their local shops.
Want to help? Contact Louise Condon at Condon Realty at 781-449-6292 for more information.