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Lyme Tree Festival and European Market Opens December 7

Nov 25, 2019 03:08PM ● By Virginia Dean

Photo Provided By Pat Pippin

The biggest fear Lyme resident Pat Pippin and her husband, Tony, have during this holiday season is wind – not the light breeze that gently rustles the ground leaves or scoops up the snow and whirls it softly into the air or even the unforgiving winds that wreak havoc on local towns and bring whiteout conditions.

Rather, the Pippins dread the kind of wind that straight lines through the Lyme Common and knocks down the 60 or so trees that their eldest daughter, Liz, and her husband, Keith, have spent hours erecting as part of the Lyme Tree Festival and European Market.

Sponsored by The Utility Club of Lyme to benefit scholarships and local area programs, this is the 5th annual Tree Festival and European Holiday Market that takes place on the Common on December 7, 2019 from 3 to 7 p.m.

“Once all the trees are up, lit and decorated by families and community members, as you enter town, the view just takes your breath away,” said Pat. “But our biggest challenge is to keep the trees upright. We had a year when the wind came through and knocked down all the decorated trees.  My heart sank. The next thing we knew, the local middle schoolers had taken the time to come over and put them upright again.”

In years past, trees are posted about 15-20 feet apart and outline the entire Common. But this year, they will be set in small groups of five each, forming a circle.

“We have a ‘Christmas stroll’ that we hope will be encouraged by this layout of the trees,” said Pat.

Participants can meet Santa at 3 p.m. and, at 4:30 p.m., there will be caroling, sleigh rides, local restaurant specials, or a candlelight stroll through the trees. Those attending should come in their best outfits (prizes for the most festive).

The European Market, featuring arts and crafts by well-known Upper Valley artists and craftsmen will be available at the Lyme Congregational Church from 3 to 6 p.m. and offer gently used Christmas decorations at reasonable prices. Families can bring their heirloom nativity sets to enjoy and read about their history at the Night of the Nativities from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the church.

There will also be an open house with toddies and caroling at the Churchill-Melvin House at 15 Main Street from 5 to 7 p.m., and there will be a 6 p.m. caroling around the pipe organ with organized Maureen Burford.

A horse-drawn wagon will also be available for all to enjoy on the back of the Common.

“This is all so inspiring for our community,” said Pat. “Many groups join in to make this event happen: the Utility Club members; the Lyme PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) that organizes classrooms to make decorations;  Community Care of Lyme that hosts a hot lunch on decorating day; the Boy and Girl Scouts and 4-H members who contribute their ideas and help along with 50 businesses and family sponsorships.”

Each year, The Utility Club of Lyme raises money for student scholarships and other local charities, Pat said

“I lived on the Common and have always wanted to see trees there at Christmas time,” she said. “So, I googled how it might be done and discovered a group in Exeter, NH in 2013. I had many conversations with their team and found out that they do artificial trees and that they are all inside.”

But Pat didn’t want take trees inside. She wanted them outside and real. So, with her family, she took the idea to the Utility Club as a potential fundraiser. The rest is part of Lyme history.

“As the years have gone forward,” said Pat, “new ideas and people have come through. And, being a local store owner with my husband for the past 53 years, I had the advantage of asking every customer who came into the store to ‘sponsor a tree’.”

“So, a business or community member/family can choose to decorate their tree however they wish,” said Pat. “One person has done an ode to Dr. Seuss and covered his tree with tinsel by the pounds!”

Once the trees are decorated, on the day of the event, guests can buy raffle tickets for $10 each or three for $25. Each tree has a ‘box’ in front of it into which people can put their raffle ticket. Around 5 p.m., raffle tickets are collected and the winners picked.

“Most of the people who win choose to leave their trees on the Common for a week or two for everyone to enjoy,” said Pat. “Then they’ll take them home. We also have trees sponsored by people who want others who may not have a tree given to them this year. That’s one of the most rewarding parts of this event – seeing their faces when a fully decorated tree arrives in their front yard.”

Pat and Tony are the current owners of the Lyme Country Store that they purchased in 1987 and don’t see any signs of slowing down at this time. Pat graduated from the Laconia School of Nursing in NH in 1960. She and Tony grew up and stayed in the Upper Valley, raised their three children in Hanover and currently have their seven grandchildren joining in on the holiday festivities.

This year, she and Tony were chosen Citizens of the Year, an honor Pat said is “very special and very unexpected”.

“We were so surprised,” Pat said. “They recognized us at our town meeting. Our three children and some of our grandkids were there. It was so special.”

To sponsor a tree or for more information call Pat Pippin at 603-795-4295 or email [email protected]

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