‘Our Christmas Present to the Town’: A Tree Glows on Prospect Street

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credit Maplewood Patch

credit Maplewood Patch

Maplewoodians have many traditions that they cherish during the holiday season: Dickens Village, the Christmas tree and the menorah in Ricalton Square, holiday festivities at the Gazebo on Springfield Avenue, creatively decorated houses and more.

One such tradition that has served as a touchstone for 15 years, is that of the Burns family Christmas tree. The Burns family lights the statuesque beauty each year, to the delight of residents and those passing through.

Several years ago, our beloved friend and colleague Marcia Worth-Baker, who passed away in September, wrote about the Burns tree for Maplewood Patch. With the generous permission of Patch’s editors, we are reprinting the original 2010 article in full, which can be found on Patch here.

A Tree Lights Up Prospect
by Marcia Worth

“It’s our Christmas present to the town,” says Steve Burns, of the tree in his Prospect Street yard that his family decorates every year. And it’s a present that comes well-wrapped; the tree is garlanded in some 48 strands of lights, each 25 feet long. Burns explains that he bought new ornaments this year, “crates full,” to decorate the tree, part of an annual tradition.

“Two homeowners ago,” recalls Burns, “the family bought this tree instead of an indoor Christmas tree. They planted it about 40 years ago now, so it has grown significantly.” When the Burns family moved into the house in 1995, Steve Burns was eager to decorate, but it was in 2000 that he achieved his goal.

That first year, he had an electrical outlet installed on the side of the house. When workers from Carew Tree Service, who help with the installation and removal of the lights, arrived, Burns remembers that they laughed. The outlet wasn’t nearly enough power for what Burns had planned for the tree. “Next thing you know,” he says, “I have an electrician installing a whole new panel in the basement and we bought an industrial timer.” The panel is used once each year, but it’s worth the effort for the family.

“The lights and decorations take two days to put up and one to take down,” explains Burns. The Carew crew works carefully, says Burns, “with a lot of care.”

Many neighbors and passers-by have told the family that it’s not Christmas until the tree is lit. “I can’t tell you how many people send cards, drop off notes, call when they see the tree,” says Burns. “There are people we hear from once a year, and it’s when the lights go on.” Neighbors often offer suggestions, as well.

“Over the years,” reflects Burns, “this has become an important thing we do for us and for the town.”

Burns notes that the tree continues to grow, so the design changes slightly from year to year. After Epiphany, on Jan. 6, a Christian holiday that celebrates the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus, Carew’s staff will remove the lights and ornaments. They’ll be stored carefully in anticipation of Christmas, 2010.

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