A mild December day greeted the Milton Independent crew last Saturday, when we embarked on decorating the tree for our 6th Annual Community Tree Lighting.

For the last five years, the Indy has relied on the community to donate an evergreen for the event. We’ve trekked to frozen corners of the town forest and sidled along Route 7 to cut down trees, borrowing a lift from Building Home Center to haul it to Hannaford plaza.

This year, we were presented with an opportunity that promised making our lives a bit easier. The Arrowhead Senior Center informed the town it no longer plans to use the spruce in front of the municipal building for its Tree of Remembrance fundraiser.

Town manager Don Turner Jr., our tree lighting helper extraordinaire, asked if the Indy would be willing to relocate. We quickly accepted, jumping on the chance to skip the chainsaw-ing and move straight to the light-stringing.

But Saturday morning, I soon realized the tree there is much bigger than I remembered.

We phoned all the hardware stores, asking if they carried red net-style lights to match those donated to us last winter. No dice. Closest by was Milton Dollar General, but there was no red in stock, just white and multicolored. We settled, aiming to affect a striped design by alternating colors down the tree’s boughs.

I bought out the store’s supply, convincing the manager to help me search the back room for more. Finding none, I went to Milton Aubuchon and bought two more boxes then to the Georgia DG for even more.

While I was on my shopping trip, Indy reporter Madeline Clark helped Don Turner Sr. untangle the lights we’d kept in storage, laying them on a blanket of white snow. A peanut gallery formed from inside the library, kids pressing their noses against the window to peek on our progress.


Milton Rep. Chris Mattos (R-Chittenden 10) aided Turner Jr. in the cherry picker lift, donated by Milton Rental for the day, draping the lights on the tree’s prickly boughs.

Soon, our commotion attracted the attention of a few of Milton’s finest, Officers Ed Larente and Matthew McQueen. They parked their cruisers and hopped out, asking if we needed any help. We must have ;ooked desperate, because they jumped right in, and we were done testing lights in no time.

Duty soon called, and left to our own devices, we realized we had a way to go. Turner Jr. was due in Montreal that afternoon, so we had to cut the day short and planned to regroup on Wednesday.

Don’t fear, Milton, the tree will be ready for primetime on Saturday!

Join us at the Milton municipal building at 6:30 p.m. on December 8 for music from Milton Community Band members, cocoa from Hillside Creamery and cookies from Madeleine’s Bakery plus the S.D. Ireland lighted truck and caroling with your neighbors.

Santa Claus himself will make an appearance, along with his elves from Milton Recreation. Remember to bring an ornament to trim the boughs.

We flip the switch at 7 p.m. sharp. The forecast looks chilly, so dress in layers and come spread some cheer. And, if anyone has a direct line to Mother Nature, could you ask for some snow? We’d appreciate it.