The Village Board convened on Monday, October 21 for their second session of the month. Although autumn is in full swing throughout Pawling, Trustees are already looking to the months ahead, notably the Village’s Decemberfest celebration and annual Christmas tree lighting.
The Decemberfest celebration is a favorite community event in Pawling, drawing hundreds of local residents and visitors from neighboring communities. Presented each year by the Pawling Chamber of Commerce, the evening features musical performances from students of the Pawling Central School District, food, and was even expanded to include horse drawn wagon rides last year. Trinity-Pawling, the Pawling Fire Department, and numerous other local organizations all join together to provide a magical evening for visitors lining Charles Colman Blvd. The evening culminates in the lighting of the Village Christmas tree beside the Chamber of Commerce building and an appearance by Santa Claus.
At the October 21 meeting, Trustees discussed potential changes to improve upon the Decemberfest celebration, citing concerns over cost and public safety. Each year, labor and costs associated with stringing the lights on the large tree beside the Chamber of Commerce building costs the Chamber of Commerce approximately $4,000. These funds are covered through fundraising efforts and donations from members of the community.
At previous celebrations, members of the Pawling High School band performed holiday music while sitting in chairs on Charles Colman Blvd beside the Christmas tree. “We had a meeting with the Chamber and two of the principals from the school district, and what came out of that was the safety issue,” explained Mayor Robert Liffland. “The teachers pointed out that it wasn’t that safe, and we came to find out that the Fire Chief agreed because he couldn’t get a fire truck down the street if needed.” Going forward, officials will consider moving the students to the Village Green’s bandstand for increased safety during the festivities. “We want the kids and everyone to line up on the Green and on the sidewalk,” added Liffland. “I think the bandstand idea is a great idea. The problem is that there was overflow into the street, which isn’t safe,” added Trustee Dan Peters.
In addition to safety concerns associated with spectator overflow into the street, the Village Board also debated the possibility of contributing funds to the Decemberfest event. “They’ve been collecting money at most of the local businesses, and they’ve been asking for donations. Towards the end, we make a push to ask local businesses, who have all be very generous. And we have made donations in the past,” explained Peters.
Trustee Lauri Taylor raised the possibility of making the decoration of the Christmas tree into a community collaboration. “I thought we should do an old fashioned community effort. The Chamber already owns the lights and the decorations, and we could get a date on the calendar where everyone comes out and helps decorate together,” she said.
Going forward, Village officials will also examine the possibility of moving the celebration to the opposite side of the Chamber of Commerce building, where a smaller but more economically feasible tree stands. “It’s time to bite the bullet and do the smaller tree,” said Trustee Earl Slocum. “The money just isn’t there any more.” Mayor Liffland believes that the alternate tree will still provide the community with a good option for the festivities. “The other tree ins’t small, it’s a perfect size,” he said.
Currently, the Village Board has budgeted $4,000 in funds to be appropriated for some form of holiday decorations, and will debate the possibly of contributing to the Chamber of Commerce Decemberfest, or possibly using some of the funds to decorate other areas including East Main Street, Dutcher Avenue, and the gateway to the Village from Route 22. Trustees will continue to examine the issue, and welcome community input at the holiday season rapidly approaches.